Learning to Play Poker


If you’ve ever played poker with friends, you know it can be a fun, addicting and social game. While luck certainly bolsters or tanks a player’s hand, over time the application of skill will virtually eliminate the element of chance in the game. The best players have patience, the ability to read other players and the ability to adapt their strategy as the situation arises. They also understand poker etiquette and the value of good table manners, including tipping the dealer and serving staff.

The first step in learning to play poker is memorizing the rules of the game and some basic odds. The next is reading some charts so you can quickly see what hands beat what. For example, a flush beats a straight, and three of a kind beats two pair. The final step is deciding what to do with your cards after the betting is done. If you are holding a strong hand, say “raise” to add more money to the pot. Otherwise, say “call” to match the previous player’s raise or “fold” if you are not comfortable betting more.

A lot of people think they can learn to read other players in poker, and the ability to do so is definitely a valuable skill. However, most of the information you will need to read other players is not from subtle physical poker tells, but rather patterns of how they play the game. Observe their bet patterns, the way they handle their chips and even their mood changes as you play them.