Poker Explained: How to Play Poker for Beginners

Poker is a game that is enjoyed in all parts of the world. No matter where you are, you can enjoy most poker variants at land-based casinos as well as online. Learning how to play poker online and the poker rules is simple and once grasped, you will be well on your way to many wins.

In this poker guide we reveal how to play poker online for free or some exciting poker cash games and provide you with the basic poker rules. Whether you are just starting off or a regular poker fan, it is always a good idea to brush up on the rules. Learn the different poker hand rankings along with different poker variants you can play. We will also mention a few poker strategies you can incorporate into your online poker game.

Poker variants at Unibet

How to Play Poker Online

We will now take a look at how to play poker online. We will base our steps on the common Texas Hold’Em poker variant that can be played for free or a cash game and is a good game to base most poker variants off of. Before you start playing poker online be sure to check any variant specific rules as well as any pot limit. Take note that online poker and land-based poker are played exactly the same way. The rules will be the same for both versions. We will outline the general rules of how to play poker and poker basics here.

  1. Place your bets – before any cards are dealt, players will place their bets in the first betting round. These will either be ante bets, where all players will put in an equal amount of money, or blinds, where the player to the left of the dealer places a small bet and the player to the left of them places a larger one.
  2. Receive cards – players will now each receive two face-down cards. They will all need to decide if they are going to check, bet or fold at this point. If one of the players makes a bet, all other players must make a call to match that bet.
  3. Community cards – once the betting round is finalized, the first three community cards are dealt, these are known as the flop. Another betting round will take place as players will have a better idea of what kind of hand they have.
  4. The turn – the fourth community card is dealt, and this is known as the turn. This card will help players create a better hand. Another round of betting takes place.
  5. The river – the fifth and final community card is dealt, and this is now known as the river. Players can now see what the strength of their final hand is. A final round of betting will take place.
  6. The winner is revealed – all players’ hands will be revealed. The player with the highest ranked hand will win the poker game.

Poker Rules and Poker Basics

Poker is a card game that is enjoyed in almost every country on online poker sites where card games are played. Each poker game variation has its own set of poker rules and gameplay. Most poker games are played against other players, but you do occasionally find poker games where you will be playing against the dealer or house. However, learning how to play poker and the poker rules is simple if you use a basic poker strategy. In almost every poker game, the aim is to create the best possible hand, one that is stronger than your opponents. Here are the 5 Texas Holdem basics and rules of poker that you can follow, always be sure to check any pot limit beforehand.

  1. All players are dealt their cards and make their initial bets in the first betting round.
  2. The first three shared cards are dealt followed by a round of betting.
  3. The fourth community card is dealt, followed by another round of betting.
  4. The fifth and final card is dealt, and another round of betting takes place, this is the final round.
  5. All players still in the game will reveal their hands.
  6. The player with the strongest poker hands will win.

Classifying Different Types of Poker

There are many different poker games and variations, including cash games out there that are played at the different online poker sites, but in general these can all be classified into three categories. These are Draw Poker, Stud Poker and Community Card Poker. Below we will have a look at each of these categories.

Draw Poker

In the Draw Poker Variations, players are dealt a full hand of 5 cards in the beginning before the game unfolds. These cards are only visible to you and other players will not know what cards you have. In the draw poker variants, players are able to discard some of their cards and replace them with new ‘draw’ cards. Popular draw poker variants include Five Card Draw, Seven Card Draw and Badugi.

4 card poker

Stud Poker

The Stud Poker variant involves players being dealt a combination of cards with some facing up and the others face down. Here your opponents will have some idea of what kind of hand you may have. The player that places the first bet in the round will change each time – meaning these games are non-positional. A few examples of Stud poker include Seven Card Stud, Caribbean Stud and Razz.

Community Card Poker

In community card poker variations, community cards, also known as shared cards, are used. Players will use the community cards to make the best possible hand along with the hidden cards they were dealt individually. The dealer provides the shared cards and are dealt in the middle of the table. Popular versions of this poker variant are Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

List of Poker Games

As mentioned before, there are many different poker variations that you can play online. Some of these are more complicated than others and will require a lot more strategic play. We will provide you with a list of different poker variants that are the most popular. We have then taken the four most popular variants that are the most well-known and commonly played – Texas Hold’em, Omaha, 3 Card Poker and Seven Card Stud and discussed them further.

  • Texas Holdem
  • Omaha
  • Omaha Hi/Lo
  • 3 Card Draw Poker
  • 5 Card Draw Poker
  • Seven Card Stud
  • Razz
  • Deuce to Seven Triple Draw
  • Badugi

How to Play Texas Holdem Poker

Texas Hold’em is the first variant of poker that players will start with online. In Texas Hold’Em you generally play against other players, but you may come across a game that you will just be playing against the house. Texas Holdem basics are very easy to learn so it is great for those players just starting out. The object to the game of Texas Hold’Em is to have or convince your opponents, by bluffing them, that you have the best 5 card poker hand. You as a player will be given 2 hidden cards that only you will be able to see, and then there will be 5 cards in the middle of the table which are community cards.

There are four betting rounds in Texas Hold’em, these are the pre-flop, the flop, the turn and the river. During each of these rounds you will have a chance to bet or to fold. The pre-flop is once you are dealt your 2 cards, before any community cards have been dealt. You will be able to place your first bet based on the 2 cards that you have. The flop refers to the first three community cards, the dealer places the first 3 community cards face up in the middle of the table. You will now be able to bet or fold once again based on the poker hand you are creating. The turn is the fourth card that gets added to the community cards, it will be dealt face up, once again bet or fold. Lastly the dealer will deal the river, this is the fifth and final community card. You can increase your bets once again.

After the river betting round has taken place, all remaining players in the game will reveal their cards. The player with the highest 5-card hand will win. You will then start another game. Texas Holdem can be played with a Pot Limit, Fixed Limit or No Limit. Check this before you start playing the poker game.


If you have understood the basics of Texas Hold’em, then Omaha poker will be easy for you to grasp. This is the second most popular poker variant played online. The difference with Omaha is that you are dealt four cards and not two as in Texas Holdem. You are, however, only able to use two of these cards to create your hand. You will use your two chosen cards and the community cards to make your best possible poker hand.

3 Card Poker

In 3 Card poker you are playing against the house and not other players. Once you have placed your first bet, you will be dealt 3 cards that only you will be able to see. If you are happy to proceed with these cards, you will then place a second bet that is equal to your first.

The dealer will reveal his cards and then you will see who has the winning cards according to hand rankings.

3 card poker

Seven Card Stud

In this type of poker game, players will start with 7 cards – hence where the name comes from. It is played with a standard 52 deck of cards, so only a maximum of 8 players can play at a time. The game will start with each player putting in an ante bet. The dealer will then give each player two cards face down and one card face up. The player with the lowest face up card will then play the bring-in bet.

In this type of poker, Aces are high, so the lowest card is a 2. The bring-in bet is the start of the first betting round. Players will now be able to bet or fold. The dealer will then deal another face up card to all players. The player with the strongest hand will be the first to bet in each round, therefore the first player to bet will change from one round to the next. The same pattern will continue for the fifth and sixth cards to be dealt. Lastly, the seventh card will be dealt face down. You will now have 3 cards face down and 4 cards face up and you will need to make the best 5 card hand from those 7 cards. There are no shared cards.

Poker Hands – Winning Hands in Poker

These online poker hand rankings are based on the 5 card draw poker and are the winning hands in poker. The hands are ranked as follows, with the best poker hands being a Royal Flush and Straight Flush.

Hand Ranking Cards
Royal Flush Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 all of the same suit
Straight Flush Five consecutive cards all of the same suit
Four of a Kind Four cards of the same rank
Full House Three of a kind plus a pair
Flush Five cards of the same suit, not in consecutive order
Straight Five consecutive cards of mixed suits
Three of a Kind Three cards of the same rank
Two Pair Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank
Jacks or Better Pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces
Pair Two cards of the same rank

Poker Explained – Betting Options

After the forced bets have been done, the first round of betting will begin. The following betting options are usually available to players depending on the confidence they have about their hands.

  • Call – matching another players bet or another players raise
  • Raise – increasing the size of your existing bet in the same round of betting
  • Fold – to withdraw from the hand, sacrificing all bets already made
  • Check – until the first bet in a round of betting is placed, players can choose to check, meaning they decline the opportunity to bet, but may still at a later stage in the round
  • All in – when a player does not have enough chips left to bet in a round, they can then play all their remaining chips

Betting Structure/Limits for Playing Poker Online

There are various different ways that betting can be structured in poker. We will outline the three most common structures you are likely to find when playing poker online and it is good to be familiar with these when you learn how to play poker. These are Pot Limit games, Fixed Limit games and No Limit games. Whatever type it is will usually be listed alongside the type of poker in online poker lobbies.

Betting Structure Explanation
Pot Limit (PL) A player may bet or raise any amount up to the size of the total pot.
Fixed Limit (FL) Betting and raising needs to be done by fixed amounts.
No Limit (NL) A player is able to bet all of their chips any time it is their turn to bet.

Poker Card Rules – How Many Cards are in Poker?

Poker is played with a standard pack of 52 cards. Depending on the variant and basic poker rules, some may use more than one pack and add in joker cards. Players can generally decide whether or not they want to use one or two jokers (wild cards), but it is best to play without any wild cards. When the jokers are used, these act to represent any other card in the deck and players can use them to create the best poker hand, hoping for a Royal Flush.

online poker

Online Poker Tournaments

Poker tournaments are wildly popular both live and online thanks to tours like the TV exposure of the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour. In tournament poker you pay your buy-in and get a stack of chips. The moment you have no more chips, you’re out of the tournament. The eventual winner is the player who collects all the chips.

Online poker tournaments are the cheapest way to potentially win big money. There are several $10 buy-in online tournaments, for example, that have awarded over $200,000 for first place. With bigger buy-ins the prizes increase even more. It is easy to find big online poker tournaments. These days the biggest online tournaments draw even more players than the biggest live tournaments, this is because of the ability to host thousands of players with no physical space needed.

poker tournaments

Cash Games vs Poker Tournaments

Many people ask the question of whether they should start playing cash games or tournaments when they first start playing poker. We will have a look at each of these to help make your decision clearer.

Cash Games Tournaments
More consistent money income. Can go months without any significant score.
More flexibility. You can come and go as you like. Schedule your play around key events and you will have no idea how long you will be playing for.
More complicated to learn, but will provide a broader range of skills. Easier to learn with the decisions being a lot more straightforward.
Potential earnings are much higher. High stake cash games are commonly found. High stake tournaments are hard to come by.

Poker Tips – Ways to Win in Poker

We have provided you with some top tips for playing poker online. Although we do not guarantee winning every time, these tips are helpful and will increase your chances and help manage your bankroll. These tips are used by the regular poker players to enhance their gameplay.

  • Time Management – Use your time wisely. Make sure you have played free online poker games before you play for real money.
  • Understand the hand rankings – All variants of online poker differ slightly, so make sure you are familiar with which hands will pay out in the variant you are playing.
  • Never play when you are tired – when you are tired, you are not able to focus 100%. The casino games will always be there, rather play when you can give 100% focus and not risk making silly decisions because you are tired.
  • Make sure you have the right mindset – never just play for the sake of playing or to try win back any money lost. Chasing your losses will usually lead to more losses. Play for fun and enjoyment.
  • Use the option of playing for free if you are just starting out – many online casinos will offer online poker for free. Play as much as you can for free to get a good feel of the game before you start playing for real money.
  • Know your limits – set yourself limits and stick to these limits. Practice responsible gambling at all times.

How Does Poker Work? Online vs Land Based Poker

Playing poker games online at an online casino and at a real land-based casino is very similar. The table set-up will be the same and then you will of course have a real person as a dealer. The speed at which the games are played is one of the main differences you will find. When playing poker at a land-based casino you will find it is much slower paced and you can obviously only play at one table at a time and therefore you will end up playing fewer hands.

Playing at a land-based casino also allows you to see the other players and you can use this to your advantage. Keep an eye on their body language and you can try to figure out their playing style, what their next move may be and whether or not they may be buffing. The basic steps on how to play poker will still apply to both, but make sure you are familiar with the rules of the specific variant of poker that you are going to play.

BetMGM poker

Common Poker Terms

There are many different poker terms and poker terminology that you will need to become familiar with when you play poker. We have taken a few of the most common poker terms and given you the definitions below to help get you started.

  • Ante – a minimum amount of action required in order to take part in the round. Established at the beginning of the table.
  • All-in – the act of risking all of your chips in one single hand.
  • Betting Limits – these are the maximum allowed bets and raise limits within a poker game. They will vary depending on the game you are playing.
  • Blind – similar to an ante, it is a forced bet that also represents the minimum amount required to participate in a hand. A “small” is half the ante and a “big blind” is the full ante.
  • Call – a bet that is the equal amount to the bet made prior. A player who calls frequently without raising or folding is known as a “calling station”.
  • Check – to not bet without folding.
  • Chips – these represent money in poker. They come in different colors that represent different money amounts.
  • Fold – to forfeit any bets already made and surrender your cards within a hand.
  • Pot – the amount that will be won.
  • Tournament – a poker event involving one or more tables of players. Each begins with a fixed amount of tournament chips.


Playing online poker and poker games in general is quite simple, once you get the hang of it. Always remember to make sure you are familiar with the rules of the poker games you are going to play. Understand the different hand rankings and strategies that will increase your chances of winning. Join one of the best online casinos and start playing your favorite poker games.

How to Play Poker Online FAQs

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