March 24, 2023 by

How to Play Poker

Normally, we talk about online casinos here at Slots Play Casinos. Still, we realize that a lot of people like to play poker. Poker is possibly the king of card games. There is also a wildly popular online casino card game that is an offshoot of five card draw poker, namely, video poker.

So, let’s talk poker!

There is a hierarchy of hands in poker. Basic poker rules are easy to learn. So, while it is easy to learn how to play poker, it is very hard to learn how to play poker well!

Play casino poker online for the most gaming benefits as well as the challenge of mastering a truly difficult game!

What is the Hierarchy of Hands in Poker?

We should start from the bottom of the chart and work our way up since the vast bulk of poker hands fit into the bottom rather than the top of the chart.

The worst hand is a hand with not so much as one pair. If all the hands at the showdown have no pairs or better, the high card wins. If the high cards are the same, then the next high card wins!

Needless to say, it is rare for a high card to win a sizable pot in any poker game.

One Pair Comes Next

A pair of aces after the first two cards are dealt is very good. A pair of aces at the end of the hand is not so good!

The next hand is two pairs. The higher pair is considered the top pair followed by the lower pair. So, if one player has a pair of kings and a pair of queens, he or she LOSES to a pair of aces and a pair of deuces!

Three of a kind beats two pair!

Why is a Flush Better than a Straight?

There are twice as many ways to create a straight in poker as there are to make a flush! This seems odd but those are the statistics! Thus, a straight is next on the poker stairway to heaven followed by the flush.

A Pair and Three of a Kind!

This hand is called a full house and it is next on the ladder to the top! A full house is quite rare in poker games with only five cards but it is a lot more common in poker games with seven cards!

What is really rare is four of a kind. YouTube has some four-of-a-kind hands in Texas Hold’em but they are rare indeed.

There is only one hand rarer than four of a kind in poker games without jokers or wild cards.

Hello to the Straight Flush

A straight is not rare but it is uncommon. A flush is not rare but it is also uncommon. A straight flush is very rare! We hope that you can get the most out of your straight flush because it might be the only one you ever get in your poker-playing career!

A straight flush ending with the ace at the top has a special name although it is just the best straight flush. We even spell it with caps to show how much it is revered in the hierarchy of poker hands. So, say hello to the rarest of rarities, the Royal Flush.

Poker is a Betting Game

There are many board games that people play without any betting at all and these games are super fun to play without betting. Poker is different! Without betting, poker has no “feel”. In modern terms, without betting poker has no “gravitas”!

Betting on What Will Happen or Betting on What We Have

Betting on outcomes is the province of sports betting. In sports betting, people bet on a future outcome. In poker, people bet on what they have, supposedly.

When people bet on what they have, supposedly, it leads to what could be called misdirection or in other contexts outright lying but in poker is the hallowed practice of….


There is some kind of bluffing on almost every hand in poker! Bluffing is how a good player gets opponents to overvalue his or her hand. However, bluffing at higher stakes is truly just for very experienced players.

Until a player is really ready to bluff on a regular basis, they should learn to analyze both hands and opponents. Psychology plays a very large role in poker!

Let’s Analyze a Poker Hand

Every poker hand plays out differently than the others so analyzing just one poker hand is for demonstration purposes only. It is not a complete poker tutorial!

Let’s look at a hand in stud poker.

The Dealers Deals Two Cards Down

This is how both five card and seven card stud begin. The dealer also deals on up cards. The down cards are called the hole cards and they should remain a mystery to the other players until the showdown.

Now we are ready for the first round of betting. The highest card on the board opens the betting. This happens on all subsequent rounds of betting as well.

Players Often Fall in Love… With Their Cards!

With only three cards out, there are very few hands that are so good that a player should bet on them immediately. If you have three of a kind already, a big bet will probably scare off the other players and you would end up with a very low return for a very good poker hand.

Two cards of the same suit are also a good hand to bet on especially if the cards are picture cards.  Two consecutive cards are also good as they are two-fifths of the way to a straight.

Strategy Changes on Each Betting Round

As the hand progresses, you have to see what an opponent who is still betting might have in that hidden treasure of hole cards. Strategy also involves entering into the unknown world of an opponent’s psyche, his or her tendencies, whether a bluff on your part might scare them off, or any other factor that you might use to further your goal of winning the pot.

Texas Hold’em and Omaha Use Community Cards

Community cards are cards that the dealer places in the middle and are available to all players. This makes Texas Hold’em and Omaha very different than any other poker variants.

Texas Hold’em has become the most popular poker game and it is played in friendly games at home in addition to hundreds (thousands?) of online poker sites.

Betting in Texas Hold’em

The first betting round in Texas Hold’em is called “before the flop”. One of the biggest mistakes new Texas Holdem players make is to stay in a hand with a weak holding “in the hole” just to see the flop.

Even in a cash game at low stakes, staying in too often to see the flop results inevitably in the player losing money.

Good Reasons to Play Poker Online

Online poker offers great benefits that playing at a land-based poker room does not offer. Here are a few such benefits:

  1. There are no travel costs so the money saved can be used to gain valuable poker experience.
  2. It is a lot harder to observe a tell online so players are incentivized to downplay tells which are over-emphasized in land-based poker games.
  3. Online poker rooms offer many stakes levels for players of all means.
  4. It is much easier to find a “table” with your favorite game online.
  5. An online poker site will usually offer some kind of new player promotion.
  6. With so much flexibility, online poker is a lot less likely to make a player a fanatic, obsessed, poker player.
  7. Playing poker is also good brain food!

Slots Play Casinos Supports Online Poker

While SPC is primarily an online casino watchdog site, we also link to online poker at Everygame Poker and Juicy Stakes Poker. We still have a link to Intertops Poker which was renamed Everygame Poker a while back and the word is still getting out!


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Jack Marsh enjoys examining the world around him from many different points of view: the mathematical, the psychological, the political, and the philosophical.

He will write from a mathematical perspective on why the cards fall the way they do, from a psychological perspective on why gamblers gamble the way they do, from a political perspective on why forms of entertainment that are encouraged in one place are prohibited in another, and from a philosophical perspective on the nature of happiness ... [Read Jack Marsh full bio]