Contrary to popular belief, online poker is easy to learn. To help accelerate your learning curve, we’ve put together this handy guide that will quickly teach you hand rankings, betting limits and general poker lingo. In just a few minutes, you’ll have the basics to start playing online poker.
Most online poker games award the pot to the highest five-card hand. It’s important to quickly learn the order of hand rankings, so that you can make the best decision for each hand.
When you fail to make any pairs or any type of coordinated hand, your highest card is the strength of your hand. If more than one player has High Card at showdown, then the second-highest card determines the winner.
A hand containing two cards of the same rank. Aces are the highest pair with Twos the lowest.
Should two players have the same pair, then their next highest card or kicker determines the winner.
A hand with two different pairs. For examples, Kings and Queens. Should two players have the same 2 pair hand, the kicker determines the winner. If the kicker ties, the pot is split.
Three of a Kind
Also called trips, this hand has three cards of the same rank.
Five cards in sequence, but not suited. The Ace swings and can make a Wheel (A-2-3-4-5) or Broadway (A-K-Q-J-10). Wrap straights (Q-K-A-2-3) are not permitted.
Straights are ranked according to the highest card in the straight. Should both players hold the same exact straight, the pot is chopped.
Five cards of the same suit, but not in sequence, such as Five spades or Five clubs. An Ace-high flush is the highest flush.
This hand contains 3 of a kind and a pair. The full house with the highest 3 of a kind wins.
In community card games where the 3 of a kind portion is on board, the player with the higher pair wins. Should they have the same pair, the pot is chopped.
4 of a Kind
Four cards of a particular rank, such as four Tens.
Five cards both in sequence and with the same suit, such as 10s9s8s7s6s.
The best possible poker hand in standard games. A Royal flush is Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten of the same suit.
If you log in to any online poker room, you’ll see options for various limits. The top three types of limits are: fixed limit, pot limit and no limit.
Fixed limit poker games control the amount you can bet and raise per round.. Betting is limited to preset amounts, which are determined before you take your seat.
Limit poker games are listed by the preset betting limits. For example, a $2-$4 limit game allows you to bet $2 pre-flop and on the flop and $4 on the turn and river.
Limit games also have betting caps. The standard cap is a bet and three raises. Pre-flop, the big blind counts as the first bet, which means that three raises can be made. On the flop, turn and river there are four
The only exception to the cap rule is in poker tournaments. When the tournament reaches heads-up play, meaning there are two final players in the event, then the caps are removed.
Pot limit poker is an alternative form of limited betting structure. Players are allowed to make bets and raises equal to the size of the total pot.
For example, in a PL Omaha game with blinds of $2-$4, the initial pot starts at $6. The first person to raise may raise by $6, making the pot $12. The next person may raise by $12, making the pot $24.
On average, pot sizes in pot limit games are larger than the average no limit pot. This is because the initial pot size and the limit of pot sized betting allows players to speculate with more hands.
Pot limit games are listed by blind sizes. The most common form of pot limit poker played today is pot limit Omaha.
No limit poker is one of the most popular forms of poker in the world today. In NL games, you can bet anywhere from the size of the big blind to the total amount of your stack at anytime in a hand.
NL Hold’em is the most common form of NL poker played online. Games are listed by the blind amounts.
How Much Do I Need to Buy In?
When buying into online poker games, you need enough of a stack to be able to compete competently. A lot of sites require a starting stack of at least 30 big blinds. The max you can take to a table is 100 big blinds.
If you’re playing in a .02/.05 NL Hold’em game, this means you need to take between $1.50 and $5 to the table.
Buy-ins for poker tournaments are different as they are fixed amounts. The amount of buy-in is clearly listed when you go to register for a tournament.
When you start playing poker, you’ll notice a lot of unfamiliar lingo. Don’t sweat – poker lingo is easy to pick up, and to help you, we’ve createda handy poker glossary.
Ante – small forced bets placed by each player prior to receiving cards. Usually found in Seven Card Stud games, but are also used in Texas Hold’em games, especially in later levels of tournaments.
All-in – When a player’s entire stack is bet.
Backdoor – Having three cards to a straight or flush after the flop, and then receiving the last two needed cards on the turn and river result in a backdoor straight or flush.
Bad Beat – When a player who is a heavy statistical favorite to win a hand loses, such as pocket Aces losing to 7-2.
Bankroll – The amount of money a person has to play poker.
Bet – The money a player puts money into a pot.Big Blind – One of two forced bets made prior to cards being dealt in many poker games. The second player to the left of the dealer button posts the big blind, which is twice the size of the small blind.
Blank – A card that fails to improve your hand. Can also mean a hand that misses all players.
Blind – A forced bet placed by players before a hand is dealt. Blinds are used to ensure there’s money or chips for players to play for in each hand.
Bluff – Betting when you don’t have a hand or when you’re behind in a hand in the hopes your opponent will fold.
Bottom pair – When you make a pair with the lowest card on the board in a community card game.
Broadway – An Ace-High straight.
Bullets – Often referring to pocket aces. May also refer to the number of buy-ins a person makes into a poker tournament.
Button – White button or disc that signifies the dealer position.
Buy-in – The cost of entering a poker tournament or cash game.
Call – Matching a previous bet.
Calling Station – A passive poker player that tends to call down most bets, usually to keep a player honest.
Case – The last card of a particular rank. Such as if a player needed a king and three were already folded, the player would need the case king.
Check – A player declining to bet when it’s their turn.
Check raise – When a person initially checks, another player bets and then the initial checker raises. This usually signifies a strong hand.
Chips – Discs used to represent cash in cash games. In tournaments, this is theoretical cash.
Community Cards – In games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, cards that are used by all players.
Cowboys – Pocket Kings.
Crack – To beat a strong hand with an inferior one, such as using J,7 to beat pocket Aces.
Cripple – In tournaments, when a player is left with so few chips that it’s highly unlikely they can recover.
Dog – A player with a hand that’s statistically weaker than other hands. Short for underdog.
Dominated Hand – When a player’s hand is a significant underdog to another. Such as A,Q vs. A,K.
Donkey – Slang for a bad poker player.
Door Card – In Stud games, the first card dealt face up.
Drawing Dead – The point in a game where there are no cards that can result in a winning hand.
Family Pot – Pots where multiple players see the flop. Common in low stakes games.
Fast – To play hands aggressively.
Flop – In community card games, the first three community cards dealt face up.
Fold – To surrender your hand, often by tossing them to the dealer.
Free card – When you get to see the next card without having to make or call a bet.
Freeroll – Tournaments that are free to play and award cash or other prizes.
Gutshot Straight – When a player needs a middle card of a sequence to complete their straight. On a flop of 3-4-7, a player holding 6-8 would need a five to complete their gutshot.
Heads up – A pot played between two players. Can also refer to the final two players in a poker tournament.
High Hand – In split pot games, the player with the best five-card hand has the high hand.
Jam – To play aggressively into a pot. May also refer to a player shoving all-in.
Kicker – The card used to break a tie in a poker hand, typically the second hole card. For example, if you flop a pair of Aces with A,K and your opponent with A,Q, your King kicker would win.
Live Cards – When your cards are not in other players’ hands or folded.
Loose – A player who plays many hands and calls many bets.
Maniac – Players that regularly raise and re-raise with almost any hand.
Muck – The act of folding your hand. Can also refer to the stack of folded cards.
No Limit – Form of betting where a player can risk their entire stack at any point.
Nuts – When a player holds the best possible hand on the board, or other players’ exposed cards in Stud.
Offsuit – Hole cards not of the same suit.
Omaha – Poker variant similar to Texas Hold’em, but players receive four hole cards instead of two. Also, player may play only two cards in their hand and three on the board.
Out – The number of cards available to make a poker hand.
Overcard – When a player’s hole cards are higher than those on the board.
Overpair – A pocket pair that’s higher than what’s on the board.
Paint – Any face card (K, Q, J).
Passive – A player who checks or calls most bets. Will bet aggressively only when they have a hand, usually a nut hand.
Play the Board – In Texas Hold’em, when the community cards make the entire five-card hand.
Pocket Cards – Cards dealt face down to all players at the start of community card poker games.
Post – A player new to a table may place the amount of the big blind at the start of the next hand rather than wait for their turn in the blinds.
Pot – The total amount of money or chips bet during a hand of poker.
Pot Limit – Poker variant where players may bet or raise up to the size of the current pot.
Pot Odds – Comparing the ratio of the current pot size to the cost of your call. Comparing pot odds with hand odds can help you determine whether you should continue in the hand.
Quads – 4 of a kind
Rainbow – When a flop falls and all cards are of different suits.
Raise – To increase the size of a previous player’s bet.
Rake – A portion of every poker pot or tournament entry collected by the casino or card room.
Represent – Playing in a way to convince your opponent that you’re holding a particular hand. For example, betting aggressively after a third heart falls on a board to represent a flush.
Re-raise – The act of putting in a second raise after a previous player raises.
Ring game – Another term for cash games.
River – The last community card in Hold’em or Omaha. The final card in Stud games.
Rock – An extremely conservative player who seldom plays unless he has a good hand.
Runner-Runner – When a player has a backdoor straight or flush draw on the flop and the turn and river complete that draw.
Scare Card – When a card falls on the board that may be higher than the cards in an opponent’s hand. For example, an Ace falling on the turn.
Second pair – Making a pair with the second highest card on the board in community card games.
Semi-Bluff – Betting with a hand that presently is the worst, but could improve. Such as betting with a flush draw on the flop.
Set – When your pocket pair makes 3 of a kind on the board in a community card game.
Short Stack – The player with the smallest amount of chips in the game. May also refer to a player with a stack that has fewer than 20 big blinds in tournament play.
Showdown – When players show their hand after all cards have been dealt and betting action completed.
Side Pot – If a player is all-in and more than one player calls, any subsequent action between those players goes into a separate pot that only they can compete for.
Slow Play – Intentionally playing a strong hand passively in the hopes of enticing a player to bet.
Small Blind – The first of two forced bets in some poker games. It is the first bet to the left of the dealer button.
Split Pot – If more than one player has the same hand at showdown, the pot is split between them. In Hi-Lo games, pots are split between the player with a high hand and a player with a low hand.
Suited – When both hole cards are the same in Texas Hold’em.
Tilt – When a player is emotionally upset and playing poorlyas a result.
Top Pair – When a player makes a pair with the highest card on the board in a community card poker game.
Trips – 3 of a kind.
Turn – The fourth community card in Hold’em or Omaha poker.
Under the Gun – The first player to the left of the big blind to act pre-flop.
Value – When a player bets for value, they’re confident and trying to extract as much money as possible.
Variance – Swings experienced in poker, both good and bad.
Time to Get in the Game
Now that you’ve learned the basics, it’s time to put that knowledge to work. Ignition Poker is a great place to play your first hands of online poker. Download the client today, make your first deposit and start playing online poker.