23 Tips to Start Play Poker Station

Play Poker Station: Poker is a game that may take a day or years to learn, but a lifetime to master.

There are many variations of the game, though Texas Hold’em is the most popular.

While each variation has its own set of rules, the basics of the game remain the same.

Poker is a game of chance and strategy as well as close observation.

It involves some psychology, such as reading the players around you to decide when to fold or bluff.

Or knowing when to call an opponent’s bluff.

Once you understand the basic rules, hands, and vocabulary of the game.

Start focusing on strategy in order to master poker.

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1.Memorize the 10 basic 5-card hands and their ranking (highest to lowest).

This is crucial to being successful at any poker game. To start familiarizing yourself with the different hands, print out a “cheat sheet” and study it. Knowing the different hands will help you determine whether your hand is good enough to bet on, or whether it’s time to bluff or fold:

  • Keep in mind that if two people face off with the same type of hand, the hand with the higher-ranking card(s) wins. If the hands have the exact same ranks of cards (suit does not matter), it is a tie and the prize, if any, is split evenly.
  • The Poker hands to keep in mind, from highest to lowest, are:
    • The highest-ranking hand is a “royal flush” (the royal straight flush). This hand includes a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit, one kind (all clubs, diamonds, hearts or spades). It can only be tied but not beaten by the royal flush of another suit.
    • A “straight flush” is made up of 5 consecutive cards of the same suit.
    • “4 of a kind” means you have 4 cards of the same rank (but different suits, of course) and a fifth card of any rank (such as 4 aces and a 9). If you have 4 aces, then no one can have any hand with an ace, so that no royal flush is available.

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    • A “full house” contains 3 matching cards of 1 rank and 2 matching cards of another rank.
    • A “flush” contains any 5 cards of the same suit. These skip around in rank or sequence, but are from the same suit.
    • A “straight” contains 5 cards of consecutive rank but from more than one suit.
    • “3 of a kind” means you have 3 cards of the same rank, plus two unmatched cards.
    • “2 pair” is made up of two cards of one rank, plus two cards of another rank (different from the first pair), plus one unmatched card.
    • ”Pair” means you have 2 cards of the same rank, plus 3 other unmatched cards.
    • “High card” is the lowest-ranking (called a “nothing”) hand, when no two cards have the same rank, the five cards are not consecutive, and they are not all from the same suit.

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2. Play for bragging rights with friends or for small change.

When you’re first starting out, avoid playing for money. Or, set the ante extremely low and get used to placing “chips” in the pot by instead using small coins for your bets. This is a fun, low-pressure way to practice your skills and try your luck.

  • You could also set a small limit for each person, such as $2 to $5, and simply watch the game once you’ve spent your limit or used up your chips that you bought from the banker.

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3. Learn some basic poker table etiquette.

No one wants to feel like the rookie at the table, so learning some basic etiquette can help you to appear more knowledgeable and feel more comfortable during the game. Remember to be respectful of other players, and if you’re not sure of the etiquette in a certain situation, go with a more reserved action over a loud, flamboyant show.

  • Pay attention to the action to know when it’s your turn. Being distracted means you’ll slow down the game, look disrespectful, and irritate the other players.
  • Small talk at the table is generally okay, but a rousing conversation, plus revealing cards or lying about your hand is considered bad etiquette. Unless you’re playing with friends, try to limit talking to the occasional comment or light exchange.
  • Instead of “slow rolling,” or slowly revealing your winning hand to your opponent, be respectful and reveal all your cards right away at the end of the hand.

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4. Learn how to deal.

Unless you’re playing at a casino, you’ll likely rotate the dealer/button position with each hand. The dealer shuffles, then distributes the cards in a clockwise circle, from the first player to the dealer’s left—and to the dealer last. The cards must be dealt face down, 1 card at a time, until everyone has 5 cards.

  • The remaining deck becomes the “draw-pool” and is placed face down in the middle of the table to be drawn from off the top.
  • After each hand, the dealer/button position passes to the next player to the left.
  • If the dealer is the same person at all times, such as at a casino table, then only the button position passes on to the next player (the last to receive the dealt card on each pass).

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5. Learn the 4 betting rounds in Texas Hold’em.

It’s known as the most popular version of poker (it is seen on TV and online). During each round, players can check, call, raise, or fold. For each round, the dealer deals you 2 cards, then the community (shared) cards are dealt face up on the table: first comes the “flop” (3 cards), second the “turn” (1 card), and finally the “river” (1 card). After the 4 rounds, the players who have not folded reveal their cards in a showdown.

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6. Guesstimate the risks on your starting hand in Texas Hold’em.

When you start the initial round of betting, it’s important to know whether or not the hand you have is worth playing and to see what can be added to them from the community cards. In Texas Hold’em, you have 2 cards to start, and you have to decide whether to play them or fold.

  • You should almost always raise when your hand is a pairs of 10s, face cards or aces. An ace and a king or an ace and a queen are strong hands as well. If you have these hands, bet before the flop to raise the value of the pot.

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7. Learn which hands to call during the “pre-flop.

This is the round of betting before the “flop,” or when the dealer lays down 3 community cards. If you have an ace with a face card or 2 consecutive face cards of different suits, these are both strong hands to call with.

  • 2 consecutive cards of the same suit can also work in your favor.
  • If you have a low pair, you should likely try your chances and call. Don’t raise, as this hand gives less value and is less likely to win on average than higher pairs.

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8.Know how and when to fold.

The key to being successful at poker is knowing when to fold your hand and accept a smaller loss, or when to hold onto it and risk a larger loss, knowing that you have a good chance to win the pot.

  • If the flop comes and you’re holding a hand that doesn’t play, check and fold. You don’t want to keep betting money at a hand that won’t win.
  • If the flop comes and you have a strong hand, bet at it. This will force weaker hands out and raise the value of your pot.

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9.Decide whether or not it’s worth “drawing.

Holding out for the cards you need is known as “drawing.” If your hand could be successful depending on whether the right cards come up in the turn or river, then you’ll have to determine if it’s worth holding out for them. Calculating pot odds can help you make this decision. If you do decide to draw, you’ll need to bluff until you get the card you need.

  • If the card you need doesn’t turn up, you can either bluff or fold. Sometimes, with good bluffing skills and some luck, a bad hand can win the whole game.

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10. Practice and watch others play to develop quick instincts.

The more you play and watch, the faster and better you’ll get. Since every poker game is different, it’s important to develop good instincts rather than try to memorize and apply tricky systems. Try to react to situations as they arise and watch how other players react to build your own instincts.

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11.Plan your bankroll carefully.

When you are learning, you should never invest more than you would consider still “fun” to lose. Don’t add to your bankroll and dive back in after losing everything you’ve venture. Wait until you are comfortable losing that amount again, for fun.

  • The general rule of thumb is you should be able to easily afford to lose 200 bets at the highest limit. So if the limit is $5 bets, then your bankroll should be $1000, and stop there.
  • Track your wins and losses if you start getting more serious about poker. This will help you figure out whether you are winning or losing in the long run.
  • Remember that you must keep records and pay taxes on your gambling income to avoid legal trouble.

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12.Learn to read basic tells.

Playing your opponents is arguably even more important than playing your cards in poker. This is a more advanced aspect of the game, but it’s always good to be aware of players’ tells—especially your own. Watch for betting patterns such as betting early, very often (probably with weak hands), or late in a hand (as intimidation). Physical tells can also give you an estimation of your opponent’s strength of hand and help you keep your own strategy secret by avoiding such patterns.

  • Some classic tells include shallow breathing, sighing, nostrils flaring, flushing red, eyes watering, blinking, swallowing excessively, or an increasing pulse seen in the neck or temple.
  • A hand over the mouth is usually to conceal a smile, while shaking hands usually reveal nerves.
  • If a player glances at his or her chips when the flop comes, they probably have a strong hand.
  • If a mediocre player tries to impress you by staring you down, they are likely bluffing.

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13. Identify conservative players from aggressive players.

This will help you determine players’ betting patterns and read them more easily. You can tell if players are more conservative by noticing those folding early—evidently only staying in a hand when their cards are good.

  • Very conservative players won’t lose as much money, but they’re easily spotted by more experienced players. Because they tend to avoid high betting, they can often be bluffed into folding.
  • Aggressive players are risk takers that often bet high early in a hand, before seeing how the other players are acting on their cards and betting or not.

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14. Say “check” to skip placing a bet.

You can say this if you are the first better or if all those already betting have checked. If you say “check” when it’s your turn at the beginning of a new hand, that means you are choosing not to place a bet at that point. Instead, you pass the chance to open to the next player.

  • In the following rounds, if you say “check,” that means you’re staying with the bets you already paid into the pot during this hand, and you won’t pay more until someone else raises during their turn.
  • If another player does raise on that hand, then you nor anyone else can say “check” or maintain your “check”—so when the play comes around to you again you have to either match or raise the latest bet or fold your hand.

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15. Say “I open” if a bet hasn’t been placed yet and you want to open betting.

For example, you could raise the ante $1 or at least the agreed minimum raise. If you choose not to open, take turns in clockwise order, until someone else has opened or every player checked. If everyone checks, then it is time to choose to discard and draw 1 to 3 cards, or “hold pat” on the cards you have. When there are fewer than 3 cards available to draw, replacements will be drawn.

  • The dealer will have to shuffle the discards and add them to the bottom of the draw stack.

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16.Say “call” if you want to bet the same as the last person.

Calling means making a bet equal to the last bet or raise. For example, if the person right of you just bet $10 and it’s now your turn, you would say “call” or “I call” to match that bet. Then you would place $10 in chips or cash in the pot.

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17. Raise” to increase the current betting amount.

This is also known as “sweetening the pot.” Raise or re-raise requires finishing this round and making another round to now allow any others to “call” or “raise” the amount of that last bet to stay in the game, or else “fold”. The ones who already called can check on this turn and the hand is finished unless someone re-raises.

  • If someone before you bets $20 and you think you have a winning hand or you want to bluff, you can raise when it’s your turn by saying “raise to $30.”
  • However, do not say “I see your 20, and I’ll raise you 10…” Despite being popular in movies, this is actually frowned upon as sloppy table talk.

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18. Say “I fold” when you’re ready to quit a hand.

Folding means forfeiting your cards and giving up that pot with any bets you’ve made into it. Wait to be dealt into the next hand if you have chips or have not reached your limit of losses. To fold when it’s your turn, put your cards face down on the table and place them onto the discard pile.

  • You can fold at any point in a hand when it’s your turn. You could also cash in, quit the game, and either watch or leave.

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19.Show your cards at the end of the game.

This is known as the “showdown.” Once every player who hasn’t folded says “check” or “call,” then those players turn their hands face up. Look at the turned over hands and see who has the highest value hand to win the entire pot. If there is a tie, the tied players split the pot.

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20.Learn the basics of five-card draw.

This variation has optional rules that can be agreed on before the game begins, such as whether or not to use jokers and wildcards, or which cards are high and low. The object of the game is similar to Texas Hold ‘Em: to get the best 5-card hand, but within the bounds of the your own 5-card hand, without common cards.

  • Determine the betting structure by deciding if you’ll play fixed-limit, pot-limit, or no-limit.
  • Decide on the dealer by asking “Who deals first?”. Depending on the group you’re with and where you’re playing, a dealer may be elected or each player could draw for the position. The organizer or host may also choose to deal first.

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21. Learn 3-card draw.

In this game, the players start by making an ante bet. The dealer and each of the players then get 3 cards, and the players must decide whether to make a play bet or fold. Finally, the dealer reveals their cards for a showdown and whoever has the best hand wins.

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22.Learn some of the more obscure variations.

If you really get into the game or just want to impress others with your knowledge of poker, learn the rules of the other variations.

These include Straight Poker, 5-Card Stud, 7-Card Stud, Lowball, Omaha, Pineapple, Crazy Pineapple, Cincinnati, and Dr. Pepper.

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23. Greatest tips

  • Select a “banker” if it is not a cash game. That person will issue and keep the supply of chips under lock and key.
  • You may also want to appoint a scorekeeper to track amounts gained and lost, as well as tally the standings.
  • You can bluff, or trick the other players into believing you have a powerful hand, by placing high bets. If they fall for it, they’ll fold and you’ll take the pot with a weak hand.
  • Don’t bet more than you are willing to lose—fold for that hand if some extremely high betting starts.
  • Watching professional poker players in tournaments is a great way to examine the dynamics of the game. You can watch these on TV or online.


  • If you do develop a gambling addiction, you can find help and resources by calling the national helpline at (1-800-522-4700) or going to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.
  • Remember that poker and other gambling games can be extremely addictive.
  • Pace yourself and limit betting to a healthy amount.

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