How to Play a Game of Poker

Learning how to play a game of Poker can seem much more difficult than it really is. The game itself is actually very logical and simple and requires just a few minutes to learn. Mastering it, however, will take you a bit longer. This article provides all the information you need to start playing the game.

Any time you get confused by the action, read below for some guidance. Each topic also contains links to more in-depth articles on that specific subject. When you feel you’ve got the hang of it and are ready to play for real, check out online top list for the best places to get started.

Quick Glossary

Before we get into describing the rules and game play, here’s a quick glossary of terms you’ll encounter. It is a guide on how to play poker and assists you in becoming an advanced level player.

1. Blinds: Short for “blind bets,” these are the forced bets made before the cards are dealt. In poker, blinds take the place of the classic “ante.”
2. Button: Nickname for the player acting as the dealer in current hand.
3. Check: Similar to a call but no money is bet. If there is no raise preflop, the big blind may check.
4. Fifth Street: See River.
5. Flop: The first three community cards dealt.
6. Fourth Street: See Turn.
7. Preflop: Anything that occurs before the flop is dealt is preflop.
8. River: The final (5th) community card dealt; also known as fifth street.
9. Showdown: When players reveal their hands to discover the pot’s winner.
10. Turn: The fourth community card dealt; also known as fourth street.


Poker is a community card poker game, with game play focused as much on the betting as on the cards being played. Although the rules and game play remain mostly the same, the end goal is slightly different depending on if you’re playing a cash game or a tournament.

A Poker tournament is the same as any other game of poker with a few added rules and twists. Poker is played on a single table with two to 10 players. The goal is simple: win as many chips as you can one pot at a time. You win a pot by having the best hand, or by having all other players fold before the showdown.


Once you have your players sitting around the table, the first thing you need to have is chips. Before you can figure out what kind of chips to give each player, you need to understand how the game works a little better, so we’ll get back to this.

For now, assume all players have chips in front of them.

The next step is picking the player who will start with the dealer button. Poker is played with what’s known as a rotating dealer, meaning a player will act as the dealer for one hand, handing the role of dealer to the player on their left when the hand is completed.

To choose the dealer, either deal every player one card, or spread the cards face down on the table and have every player choose one. The player with the highest-valued card (aces are high for selecting a dealer) starts as the dealer.
If you’re in a place with a professional dealer, or someone volunteers to always physically deal the cards, the dealer button will still rotate around the table.

Even though he or she is physically dealing the cards, for all intents and purposes, the person with the button is viewed as being the dealer for the hand. Once the hand completes, the player with the dealer button will pass it to the player on his or her left.

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