Online Poker 101: Poker Hand Rankings, Betting Limits and More

How to Play – The Basics of Online Poker

If you’re here, then chances are you’ve never played online poker, or maybe you’re completely new to the game of poker itself. Regardless of the reason, we’re going to give you a crash course on how to play poker.

Don’t let the amount of information that we’re about to give you scare you off. You’ll find that after you play a few hands, everything we’re about to tell you will make sense. Then you can get busy trying to improve your general poker strategy.


Understanding Hand Rankings


Before you even play your first hand, it’s important to learn the hand rankings. This way you know whether a straight beats a flush or whether you should continue playing that pair of sixes when facing multiple raises.

High Card – The lowest ranking hand. You don’t have any pairs or any type of coordinated hand. This hand is described by the highest card in the hand, such as Ace-High.

Pair – You have two cards in your hand of the same rank, such as a pair of kings. The lowest pair is pocket twos, or deuces, and the best pair is pocket aces.

2 Pair – When you have two different pairs in your hand, such as queens and tens. A 2 pair hand is ranked by the higher of the two pairs. Ex.- “Queens Up”

Three of a Kind – This is a hand with three cards of the same rank. Such as three nines. This is also referred to as trips.

Straight – This hand contains five cards in sequence, such as 6-7-8-9-10. They’re not of the same suit. An ace can play high (A-K-Q-J-10) or low (A-2-3-4-5) for a straight.

Flush – This is five cards of the same suit, but not in the sequential order. Ace is always high. Ex. – Ah-Jh-9h-6h-2h

Full House – Here you have a hand containing both a pair and three of a kind. Ex. K-K-K-J-J

Four of a Kind – As it sounds, with Four of a Kind, you have four cards of the same rank. Ex. 8-8-8-8-A

Straight Flush – This hand comprises five cards that are both in sequence and of the same suit. Ex. 5s-6s-7s-8s-9s

Royal Flush – The highest possible hand in regular poker games. It is the A-K-Q-J-10 of a particular suit. Ex. As-Ks-Qs-Js-10s

The Basics of Betting


If you’re completely new to poker, then you should know the basics of how to bet at the tables. We’ll give you a quick rundown on the different terms.

Bet – The first money put into the pot on a particular street.

Call – When you match someone else’s bet.

Raise – When you put in a larger amount of money than the person that bet before you. Raises must be at least twice the amount of the initial bet.

All-In – When you put all of your chips into the middle, or when you call a bet that is greater than or equal to your stack.

Fold – Getting rid of your cards rather than calling someone’s bet or raise.

Blinds and Antes


In the majority of online poker, you’ll encounter blinds and in some cases, you’ll encounter antes. Both are forced bets that go into the pot to help create action. Without them, most poker games would become boring, as players would only put money into the pot when they have a hand.

In games that use blinds, two players must post a blind prior to the start of each hand. These are to the left of the dealer button. The dealer button signifies the official dealer position and ensures that everyone puts in blinds equally.

The first player to the left of the button puts in a small blind amount and the second person puts in the big blind amount. No-Limit Texas Hold’em games are spread according to blinds. In a $1-$2 game, the small blind is $1 and the big blind is $2.

For Limit Hold’em and other limit games with blinds, the small bet amount is the size of the big blind. For example, in a $2-$4 Limit Hold’em game, the small bet amount is $2. As such, the small blind must post $1 and the big blind $2 prior to the start of each hand.

As for antes, they’re forced bets placed into the pot by all players at the table prior to the start of the hand. This is done to generate action. Antes are fixed amounts that are much smaller than the big blind. You’ll see antes much more frequently in later limits of poker tournaments or in games like Seven Card Stud.

Online poker software will take care of posting blinds and antes for you.

Understanding Betting Limits


On TV, poker seems to be all about risking your entire stack. While true in some games, there are different betting limits for different poker games and you should have at least a basic grasp on what they are before you start playing.

Fixed Limit Poker

In fixed limit poker, you have a set limit on each bet. Bet amounts are static and can’t be changed. Fixed limit games are listed according to their limits, which makes it easy to figure out how much to bet.

There are two forms of bets in limit poker, the small bet and the big bet. For example, let’s look at a $5-$10 limit Texas Hold’em game. The small bet for this game is $5 and the big bet is $10.

Pre-flop and on the flop, the bets are $5. If you bet $5, your opponent can only raise it by $5. On the turn and river, the bets are $10. If you bet $10, they can only raise it by $10.

In many casinos and in online poker rooms, limit poker has a cap on the number of bets and raises on any street. Usually, the limit is a bet and three raises. In our example, that means the most you can put into the pot when capped is $20. On the turn and river, the most will be $40.


Pot-limit poker betting is limited by the size of the current pot. For example, if the pot is $30 on the flop, you can bet $30 max. However, if you bet $30, then your opponent can raise $60 because the pot to them is $60.


Just like the name suggests, in no-limit poker, you can bet up to the amount of chips in your stack. If you’re playing a $2-$4 NL game and you have $200 in your stack, you’re allowed to bet anything between the size of the big blind and your entire $200 stack.

Capped Tables

You may encounter the occasional online poker cash game that has a CAP on the total amount of the pot. In these games, the pot can only grow to the size of the CAP, at which point remaining players are all-in.

The Software Will Help You

If this seems like a lot to take in, we’ve got some good news for you: Online poker software will help you with everything mentioned above. If you sign up and play at Ignition Poker, their software will keep you up to speed on every aspect of the game, includingwhat your best current hand is. That way you don’t have to worry about memorizing the hand rankings chart.

Next, the software will let you know what type of betting you’re allowed to do on each street. A combination of sliders and buttons will guide you through the process. The software will even prompt you when it’s your turn to act, so you don’t miss your turn.

Online poker is really one of the best ways to learn poker because the software will help pick up any slack while you’re still learning the ropes. So don’t let a bunch of technical terms scare you off. Poker is a fun and easy game to learn, and playing online poker will help accelerate your learning curve.