Friendly People, Friendly Poker
While this page will not give you the grasp on poker that a pro or even just a normal regular player has, it will give you just enough of a sense of it to be able to jump into it and to use FPcoach to be a winning poker player on PokerStars.
Not everything explained here has to make sense to you immediately but if you read through it once and get into some playmoney tables, you'll start to get a feel of it very quickly just by going through it and glancing at this page every now and then. Playing playmoney tables on PokerStars is a great way to get a grasp on things very quickly.
Also, if you ever get lost in terminology when reading about poker anywhere, this little glossary page might come in handy.
Texas Holdem is the game that FPcoach is made for, it's also the most popular poker game online and is often featured on television. This is how it works: Each player is dealt two cards, referred to as 'pocket cards', 'hole cards' or 'private cards'. Three community cards (the cards that are still in the deck) are dealt face up by the dealer in the middle of the table. By making a combination of your pocket cards and the community cards, you'll try to form the best poker hand. After that two more community cards are dealt face up on the table. After every round of new community cards, each player can place a bet, forcing the other players to fold theirs (give up) if they suspect that you may have a better hand than them. That's really the absolute basics, knowing this can already be enough to jump in and learn all the remaining intricacies as you go along!
Every time new pocket cards are dealt, the buttons (dealer, big blind, small blind) move to the next player position (clockwise). The player who has the dealer button gets to act last, and he is usually marked with a dealer ('D') button.
In order to set the game going, poker games force players to place blind bets. Placing a blind bet refers to the placement of a bet by a player even before he gets his pocket cards. In poker games there are two blind bets that have to be placed by the two players sitting at the positions after the dealer (clockwise). The person sitting immediately next to the dealer places the 'small blind', while the player seated after that places the 'big blind' which reflects the absolute minimum bet that can be placed at that time. Generally, 'big blind' is double the amount of the 'small blind'.
1st Round: Preflop
Once the blind bets have been placed, the first round of the game goes forward and in clockwise order each player is dealt with two pocket cards. Now players have to analyze their cards and make the decision whether to bet or to sit out the round. Players do not have the option to 'Check' in the first round, and the available actions are Bet, Call, Raise or Fold. In order for the game to proceed, each player has to place a bet for the same amount. If one player chooses to raise the bet, then others either have to Call or to Re-raise or to 'Fold' their cards, which would result in them not participating in that round.
2nd Round: The Flop
After the first round has been successfully done, now comes the turn to place the three community cards on the table with their faces up. This stage is also called 'the flop'. After the flop, each player keeps a close eye on his pocket cards and tries to create a favorable hand with the flop.
Now the second round of betting starts and the first player seated after the dealer has to make the move. Once again each player can Call or Raise or Check or Fold and for the rest of the round the same rules will be followed as in the first round.
3rd Round: The Turn
After the end of the second round, a fourth community card is placed on the table, also known as the Turn. At this stage each player has a total of six cards available. After the Turn the fourth round of betting starts.
4th Round: The River
Before players can start betting for the fourth time, the fifth community card is placed, which is also called the River. Up until this stage, the game usually gets very interesting with at least a couple of players folding on the way through, and the rest fighting closely against each other. After the last community card is dealt, the final round of betting takes place.
At the end each player has to come up with the best five-card hand out of the two poker cards and the five community cards. If a player has failed to form a worthwhile hand with the help of his pocket cards, then he can 'play the board' which means that he can use the five community cards to form his hand. After five rounds of fierce competition, each player shows his hand and the player with the best hand wins the pot.
If a player finds that the already shown hands are better than his, then he can choose not to show his hand at all.
That's it! This is all you need to know about the actual structure of the game. And to know the value of each combination of cards, make sure to check out the hand rankings!
As every player gets the chance to form the best hand with the help of the five community cards, the defining factor in the game is what pocket cards a player has in his hand. If a player gets a great combination in the pocket hands like two Aces, then his chances of success are much higher than a player who has a 7-2 combination. The best way to go about it is to go ahead with the game if you hit upon great pocket cards or to simply fold if you get two of the worst cards out of the deck. However, cards of lesser value can also come in handy if the community cards are favorable.
(these hand rankings will soon be updates with the community photos posted here!)
From Best to Worst
A straight from a ten to an ace with all five cards of the same suit. In poker all suits are ranked equally.
Any straight with all five cards of the same suit.
Four of a Kind
Any four cards of the same rank. If two players share the same Four of a Kind, the bigger fifth card (known as the kicker) decides who wins the pot.
Any three cards of the same rank together with any two cards of the same rank. Our example shows "Aces full of Kings" and it is a bigger full house than "Kings full of Aces".
Any five cards of the same suit (not consecutive). The highest card of the five determines the rank of the flush. Our example shows an Ace-high flush, which is the highest possible.
Any five consecutive cards of different suits. Aces can count as either a high or a low card. Our example shows a five-high straight, which is the lowest possible straight.
Three of a Kind
Any three cards of the same rank. Our example shows three-of-a-kind Aces, with a King and a Queen as side cards - the best possible three of a kind.
Any two cards of the same rank together with another two cards of the same rank. Our example shows the best possible two-pair, Aces and Kings. The highest pair of the two determines the rank of the two-pair.
Any two cards of the same rank. Our example shows the best possible one-pair hand.
Any hand not in the above-mentioned hands. Our example shows the best possible high-card hand.
You're ready! You can start playing on PokerStars and even use our own FPcoach interactive guide to immediately start playing like a winning player!