Poker is hugely popular — it’s social, you can play for real money, and there’s a deep element of strategy that keeps players interested as they learn. But there’s a lot to learn before you can be successful at the game, including how to read other players and watch for their tells.
How to play poker
When you’re ready to play, gather a group of friends and decide on a maximum stake that everyone agrees to. This way, there are no squabbles over chips or who can afford to fold. Next, find a home game in your area or ask around for a local group that meets regularly to play for fun. This is ideal for beginner players because you can ask for advice and get a feel for the game in a relaxed, low-stakes setting.
You should also familiarize yourself with the different poker hands. The highest hand is a royal flush, consisting of five consecutive cards of the same suit. A straight is a hand with five cards of the same rank in sequence but from more than one suit. A full house is two matching cards of the same rank and three other unmatched cards. A pair is two distinct cards of the same rank and a high card breaks ties.
Aggressive play builds big pots and puts pressure on your opponents. Beginners should avoid playing too conservatively and should raise and bet when they have a strong hand. This is especially important when facing a weak opponent who will likely call every bet, reducing the amount they win.