The basics of Poker

Although poker isn’t a game you become good at in one day, if you’re dedicated to learn you’ll find a way. In this article I’ll be lining out the basic how-to’s of playing poker but first let’s have a look at the game itself.

A little history

Poker has been around as early as the 1700’s, although you might not have expected that. It’s as if nobody knew about this game until it suddenly became a mainstream game thanks to American TV channels broadcasting the tournaments live. It’s been since then, that its popularity has quickly risen. Maybe that’s because of the high stakes and big amounts of money involved to even participate in one of the high profile tournaments. Such as the World Series of Poker, for example. What makes poker such a fun game to play, is that it’s the perfect combination between technique and mind games. That’s what keeps the game exciting, refreshing and always unpredictable.

The Basics

Poker is traditionally played with 52 cards (1 pack), but nowadays in the big tournaments they often use 2 packs instead. That’s done to speed up the game and make it more exciting to watch and play. In recent years poker has become this huge social gathering, not only for friends at home, but also the big tournaments. One of the most important things to know before you give playing poker a try, is knowing the value of different cards and hands. There is a range of different poker ‘hands’, which are card combinations, that each have a different value. Below you can find those 5 poker hands.

Five of a Kind

If you get this hand, you’re in luck because this is the strongest hand in the range. Very straight forward: this hand is 5 of the same cards with at least one of the cards being a joker.

Straight flush

If playing poker with a standard pack (so no extra jokers, for example), then this is the highest value combination you can get. A straight flush consists of 5 cards in the same sequence. For example A,K, Q, J and 10 or a line of numbers (all hearts or all black) from 10, 9, 8, 7 to 6. As you can imagine, the odds of getting a royal flush, which is the combination of A, K, Q, J and 10 is very small.

Four of a Kind

What’s nice about poker is that its terms are easy to understand. Four of a kind is four of a kind. This is the next highest hand, it can for example be four queens or four 4’s. The fifth card can be any other card, it doesn’t influence the set.

Full house

Three cards of one rank, 2 of another. You can already fill this in with common sense, but a full house hand for example is 3 6’s and 2 4’s.


Not very powerful, but still relevant. A flush is a set of cards from the same suit, but not in natural order.
The above combinations are the 5 most important ones. Just set your sights at those and you’ll be quite allright!

Tips to start out

If you know the basic technique of poker and you want to improve before you start playing for real. Whether that’s in an online poker room or at a tournament, it’s best that you study some poker games. You might want to observe the players, how they bluff, how they behave and what their strongest or weakest assets are. Once you understand those basics of do and don’ts, accompanied with the technique and different poker combinations, it’s easy to start out. But like with everything, perfection takes practice. So if you want to start playing for money, you might want to start small, with low stakes (and low entry fee’s), so you can learn and develop your skills without too much pressure of losing money.