In this how to play poker for beginners lesson you will learn the basic rules and game processes of poker. The good news is they’re not as complex as you might have been led to believe.
To start it’s best that you restrict yourself to free online poker multi-table free Texas hold em freeroll tournaments. These games can have anywhere from 20 to 250 players at the start, and, more good news for you, the the quality of the competition you’ll come up against in these games is far from, shall we say, “elevated”; the vast majority of free online poker players exist in a world dominated by relatively average play.
So, to start, you login to your free online poker site and go join a game. As mentioned each of these tournaments will have multiple tables. You can divide the number of players by 10, and you’ll know how many tables are a part of the tournament. You round up to eliminate the decimal point, if any; e.g., 68 players divided by 10, equals 6.8, rounded up, means there are 7 tables in the tournament.
Now the online poker software of the site you play at will seat you at a randomly selected table and seat. On any decent free online poker site games start very regularly, maybe every half-hour; 24-7 so initially, don’t be overly concerned about how successful you are in any one game; there’s always another game that you can enter.
Who Wins and How?
Fundamentally, the winner of any 1 hand will be the player who has the best cards.
The outline of the game process is this:
You get 2 cards dealt to you face down, that only you can see. This is followed by a round of “blind” betting; generally, no more than 3 raises to the original bet are permitted; and this restriction of raises will be true in all future rounds of betting.
Next, the Dealer will expose 3 cards on the table. These are called community cards, and can be used by all of the players who are participating in the hand.
At this point, another round of betting occurs.
Then the Dealer will add another card to the community cards; there are now 4 cards that can be used by all of the players who remain in the hand.
This is followed by another round of betting.
Last, the Dealer will add a 5th card to the community cards. Again followed by another round of betting
Now lets look at this in more detail:
Your 2 face down cards are known as “Pocket Cards”. They are dealt out, one at a time, left to right, to everyone at the table. You only see your own pocket cards.
The Dealer then exposes 3 “community cards” to all players on the table. This stage is known as “The Flop”.
When he exposes the 4th “community card”, it’s known as “The Turn” (or, 4th Street).
And, when he exposes the 5th “community card”, it’s known as “The River” (or, 5th Street).
All 3 to 5 “community cards” that are exposed on the poker table at any one time are known as “The Board”.
Every player who is participating in the hand through the process of betting (if you “folded”, you’re no longer in the hand), attempts to make the best possible five-card hand.
They can use any 5 of the 7 cards that are available to them; one, both, or none of their pocket cards, together with 3, 4, or 5 of the “community cards”.
The player with the best 5 card hand wins all of the money that has been bet (The Pot).
The “Dealer Button” is involved in every hand to be played; one of the game’s participants gets the Dealer Button (DB); the selection of the player who first receives the DB is done by the free online poker software.
At a casino, it’s a round disc, about the size of a hockey puck, and the letter D is usually emblazoned on its flat surfaces.
At a paid or free online poker site, the software will automatically place a symbol of sorts on your PC screen to identify the DB.
And, the position of the Dealer Button on the poker table is important since the 2 players to the left of the DB are forced to place bets before the cards are even dealt out.
Plus, as you’ll come to learn later, after you read the “Building a Bankroll” series of articles, the DB position is the best seat at the table. Additionally, at the end of every hand, the Dealer Button (DB) moves one position to the left; thus, everyone acts as the “virtual dealer” in an Internet game, and, everyone is forced to place “blind” bets.
Blind Bets? What are they?
This is how the game starts.
The player to the immediate left of the Dealer Button (DB) is compelled to put up the Small Blind (SB).
The player to the immediate left of the Small Blind (SB) is compelled to put up the Big Blind (BB).
These “blind bets” are placed in the pot, in front of the dealer. This essentially kickstarts the betting, and, it”s all done before anyone has gotten any cards!
This, for the lack of any other rational reason, means that the winner of the hand that’s about to be played, will, at a minimum, collect the small amount of money that has been “forced” into the pot by the blind bets.
In a multi-table freeroll, or any No Limit free online poker tournament game, the size of the Small Blind (SB) and the size of the Big Blind (BB) are very low at the start of the game. And, every player in the game begins the game with the same amount of free online poker faux-money; or, for practical purposes, poker chips.
Usually, in 15 minute intervals, the size of the “blinds” increase.
As an example, if the beginning “blinds” were $10 (SB) and $20 (BB), within 15 minutes the “blinds” would change to $20 (SB) and $40 (BB).
And, thereafter, as the game progresses, the “blinds” continue to go up every 15 minutes.
In the end, at the final table in a tournament (the last remaining 10 players), the “blinds” could easily reach the point of being $2,000 (SB) and $4,000 (BB).
Now don’t be alarmed, the dollar amounts tied to the Small Blinds (SB) and Big Blinds (BB) in the preceding paragraph, during all freeroll games played on free online poker sites are “fictional” amounts of money. It’s not real money. It’s merely a “tournament representation” of money; it’s free online poker faux-money, they’re poker chips, not real dollars.
This is one reason why it is a very good idea to learn to play poker as a beginner on free poker sites, it can get very expensive very quickly if you start on a real money site!
Winning and Money
The good news with a poker tournament is that the 1st place player doesn’t take all the money. Yes, the absolute winner does get a lions share but other players do get a cut too. How many players and how much is determined by the number of players who enter and the size of the pot. You an find out this information before the game starts.
As the game progresses players are knocked out and tables amalgamate. At some point only those who will share the money are left. If you are still in at this stage then you are now “in the money” or “in the bubble” as it is also commonly called.
When just 10 players are left you will be on the “Final Table”, typically to win any decent amount you need to be here even in very large poker tournament though places lower than this can often at least pay back your cost of joining the game if it is a buy in game.
Right at the end with just 2 players left you will be “head to head”…but that is a story for another day!
Summing up How To Play Poker For Beginners Part 1
In this stage we looked at basic game processes. In part 2 we’ll get into more detail on the stages described and look at what you actually physically do and consider some essential basic free online poker strategy.