Basic Strategy

You can learn how to play poker in 15 minutes. Learning how to play poker WELL can take a lifetime. Each week, will add to its library of introductory and advanced poker strategy sections. One article will not teach you how to play poker or make you a good player: Literally hundreds of books have been written about poker, and most (though not all) add something useful to a poker player’s education. Return here each week, and each time you’ll add something new to your arsenal.

The basic strategy section is designed for those who are new to poker, have played very little poker, or who usually lose at poker. If you’ve been playing and winning for years, you will probably be more interested in our “advanced strategy” section. But don’t give up on our “basic” section just because one week’s article seems easy to you. Even professional athletes spend time reviewing fundamentals. Poker players would do well to follow the same course.

When discussing poker hands, I will frequently use abbreviations to discuss a hand. For example, I will call a hand containing an Ace, a Queen, a Jack, a Ten and a Four “A-Q-J-10-4.”

Poker Terminology

Like many games, poker has a language all its own. Although I will be explaining important concepts throughout all articles, it would slow down the reading too much for intermediate players to have every term defined every time it is used. So we will be providing links to our Poker Dictionary; anytime you see a a little book ( ), you can click on it, and see the definition and explanation of the word in front immediately, and then return to your article.

Rules of Play

If you count home poker games, there are almost as many variations of poker as there are poker players, so I am going to focus here on the games that are commonly played in casinos and legal card rooms: Texas Hold ’em, 7-Card Stud, and Omaha. I will also briefly discuss 5-Card Draw and 5-Card Stud, even though these games are almost completely dead in the poker world. They are present in so many movies and television shows that they’re worth a few words here.

There are other games played in casinos, including several variations where the WORST (lowest) hand wins the pot, but I’ll leave those for more advanced play articles.

I suggest you read all of the introductory articles, even if you want to learn only one game, because I define certain terms in each (most of the definitions come in the Hold ’em article, because it comes first), and don’t repeat myself.

In all cases I will discuss the games as they are dealt in casinos. You can make adjustments from there to your home game.

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