What to Aim for In Poker

Learning to play poker is something very easy, yet learning to master it is something just as difficult. It is a casino card game whereby players must try to build the best hand according to the card values and their combinations, and bet on the strength of their hand. It is a competition between the players (and not the dealer like in Blackjack). As such, the player that wins is he/she who with either the highest hand, or he/she who is last left in the game. There are many variations of poker, each with different amounts of betting rounds and different amounts of cards per hand. The following information is relevant for Texas Holdem Poker - the most commonly played variation of online Poker.

The Rules of the Online Poker Game

  • Play always moves clockwise and starts with the player seated left of the dealer.
  • The dealer is represented as a plastic disk.
  • The 2 players left of the dealer must post a big and small ‘blind' respectively. A Blind is a bet that is made before any cards have been seen or dealt in order to build the pot (the available winnings).
  • To ‘Call' is to match the amount of the big blind.
  • To ‘Raise' is to increase the bet to a given amount.
  • To ‘Fold' is to resign - to give up your cards to the dealer and stop playing in the round.
  • To ‘Check' is to not bet in a given round. This is only possible if no wagers have yet been made.
  • The value of the cards ascends in order from lowest to highest face value, other than Ace which is one point higher than the King, and always a high value.
  • The hand rankings are as follows:
Poker Hand Rankings
Royal Flush Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10
Straight Flush Any same-suited 5 card sequence
4 of a Kind 4 of the same numbered cards
Full House 3 of a kind + 1 pair
Flush Any same suited 5 cards
Straight Any 5 card sequence
3 of a kind 3 of the same numbered cards
2 Pair 2 separate pairs of same valued cards
1 Pair 2 same valued cards

The Course of the Online Poker Game

  1. The Blinds: The blinds are posted. Players have the opportunity to call or raise the small blind. Once all players have made their bet, 2 ‘hole cards' are dealt - which are the only 2 cards throughout the course of the game that are dealt face down for only that player to see.
  2. The Pre-flop: After all players have seen their hole cards, they have the opportunity to call or raise the big blind, or fold.
  3. The Flop: Now 3 community cards are dealt face up for all players to see and use. Over the course of the game there are 5 community cards like these dealt, and players must build the best poker hand they can by using their 2 hole cards and any 3 of the 5 community cards. After seeing the community cards, another round of betting commences.
  4. The Turn: A 4th community card is dealt face up on the table. Another round of betting commences.
  5. The River: a 5th community card is dealt face up on the table. A final round of betting takes place.
  6. The Showdown: If there is more than one player left in the game at this point, then the last person to have bet must reveal his/her cards to the rest of the table. If there was no bet made in the last round, then the person left of the disk must reveal his/her cards. The player with the best 5 card hand is awarded the pot.

Note: The online poker software will instruct you how to play poker as the game continues. When your turn is reached, a window ill appear with betting options and all you must do is click on what you want. The rest is up to the software!

The Online Poker Odds

It is difficult to calculate online poker odds because the game is so dynamic, However there are few that remain constant:

Pot Odds After the Flop
Hand Probability Pot Odds
4 to a Flush 34.97% 1.86
4 to an Outside Straight 31.45% 2.18
4 to an Inside Straight 16.47% 5.0
Pot Odds After the Turn
Hand Probability Pot Odds
4 to a Flush 19.67% 4.11
4 to an Outside Straight 17.39% 4.75
4 to an Inside Straight 8.70% 10.50