Poker Guide For Beginners & Experts

Poker is arguably the most globally successful casino card game, with millions of fans worldwide. It has been a popular past-time for Kiwis in New Zealand since the late 1800s, and Guts NZ is delighted to further this playing tradition with our fantastic online poker platform. Check out our selection of extensive poker rooms and MTTs for an outrageously fun experience.

One of the fundamental reasons behind poker’s success on the global casino scene is its complexity and vast number of possibilities. This can make it difficult to jump straight into without any knowledge of the rules, but we’re here to help. Our poker guide will teach you all you need to know to become a master!

But we’re not just there for the beginners. Guts is also determined to help advanced players enhance their skills, so we’ll also look at a few golden strategies for success throughout this article. What are you waiting for? Get stuck in below!

How To Play Poker: Basic Rules

Several types of poker are available nowadays, all with slightly different rules. The most globally popular version is draw poker Texas Hold’ Em, although other variants like Omaha and Seven-Card Stud are increasingly admired. There are a few universal poker rules to understand regardless of which kind you play:

  • The main goal is to form the highest hand compared to competitors. Bluffing is an ingenious way to convince players to stand down, even if you actually have a weaker hand.
  • Most poker types let players use cards from their personal hand and the community hand dealt on the table.
  • You must either bet, call, raise existing bets, or fold during each poker round.
  • Players will usually need to pay a small blind and a big blind before each round. This goes around the table, with compulsory bets from two players required before the cards can be dealt.

Poker Card Rankings 101

Learning poker ranking hands is fundamental to knowing how to play and enhancing your strategy. The most advanced players constantly have this information at the forefront of their minds, although it can never hurt to recap. It is even more important for beginners to get a grasp of how this works, as knowing poker card rankings is key to understanding the strength of your hand.

Look below for a rundown of common poker hands across the several varieties. We’ve ordered them from strongest to weakest:

  • Royal Flush: A-10 (All same suit)
  • Straight Flush: 5 cards in a row (All same suit)
  • Four of a Kind: Four equal value cards of each suit
  • Full House: Three identical cards with an added pair
  • Flush: Five unordered cards of the same suit
  • Straight: Five consecutive card cards not of the same suit
  • Three of a Kind: Three identical cards across three suits
  • Two Pair: A hand containing two pairs of identical cards
  • One Pair: Two cards of the same value
  • High Card: Don’t have any of the above? In this case, your highest card is the only thing you can play with

Memorize these to enhance your poker playing strategy. Spotting them in your hand is absolutely critical to any success.

Poker Hands

The Different Poker Betting Actions

Betting during poker isn’t difficult, but there are a few more rules to follow than in other table game examples. Essentially, you’re betting on the strength of your hand, but it isn’t quite as simple as this. All players on a poker table must bet concurrently, with contestants who can’t or don’t want to match the overall bet amount being forced to fold.

Poker betting works in rounds. In game varieties like Texas Hold’ Em, there are generally four rounds or “streets”. Here are the categories to be aware of:

  • Pre-Flop: A round of betting after each player has received their initial two hole cards.
  • Flop: A betting round after the first three community cards have been dealt.
  • Turn: Another betting cycle after the fourth community card.
  • River: The final betting round where players can use all five community cards together with their two to create the best five-card hand.

You’ll need to learn a few bits of lingo to effectively communicate your intentions. Here are the main examples:

  • Check: This action is only available if no other bets have been made during the round. Checking means you pass up the opportunity to bet or fold until the next turn.
  • Open: An open bet is the first of the round (other than big blind and small blind). This sets the scene, with other players either having to raise, call, or fold.
  • Fold: If you’re not particularly confident in your hand, the best option is often to fold. You won’t need to place any more bets until the next round of cards is dealt.
  • Call: Calling requires you to match the highest bet made during a betting round.
  • Raise: Think you might have a winning hand? Up the ante by raising the bet, forcing other players to do so if they want to stay in the round. This is a great way to bluff, but you must be careful not to give anything away.

The Best Poker Varieties

Poker is interesting for its huge number of potential variations. You can enjoy countless poker types here at Guts poker, including:

  • Fixed
  • Pot & Limit Texas Hold ‘Em
  • Omaha
  • Omaha Hi-Lo
  • Five-Card Stud
  • Seven-Card Stud

Texas Hold’ Em is the most globally famous option, followed by Omaha and Seven-Card Stud. We’ll go into a little more detail on these three below:

Texas Hold’ Em

Players aim to make the strongest hand possible out of their two-card hand and the five community cards on the table. These communal cards are dealt in three stages, the Flop, Turn, and River.


Omaha uses similar rules to Texas Hold’ Em, but there are a few differences. The betting rounds are largely the same, although players are dealt four cards at the beginning of each round rather than two.

Seven-Card Stud

There aren’t any community cards during Seven-Card Stud. Players are dealt two face-down cards and one face-up card before the first betting round. Afterward, you will be dealt an additional three face-up cards and one face-down card. Another betting round follows before everyone shows their facedown cards and picks five to form their hand.

Step-by-Step: How to Play Texas Hold’ Em Poker

Let’s walk through a round of Texas Hold 'Em to ensure you genuinely understand how to play poker. We've discussed the various rules and betting principles. Now it’s time to put them into practice. This is what a typical round would look like:

  1. The Small and Big Blinds are paid by the corresponding players
  2. Each player is dealt two facedown cards
  3. The Pre-Flop betting round begins
  4. The dealer deals the first three community Flop cards
  5. Another round of betting occurs
  6. The dealer deals the fourth community card
  7. Another betting round takes place
  8. The dealer deals the last community card
  9. A final betting round takes place
  10. All players still involved reveal their hands in the showdown

Different Ways To Play Online Poker

You have several options when choosing how to play poker at Guts. Play with friends in a private room or enter Sit & Go or Multi-Table Tournaments. We’ll go into more depth on each one below:

  • Sit & Go: Many players love Sit & Go tournaments for their speed and convenience. These competitions generally don’t take longer than an hour, and we have numerous options at Guts poker. These games don’t have more than ten players in most cases, and you are eliminated as soon as you lose all your chips.
  • Multi-Table Tournaments: Advanced poker enthusiasts tend to play Multi-Table Tournaments (often abbreviated to MTTs). These tournaments can take several days to complete, starting off with several tables that eventually boil down to one. At Guts, we have various MTTs covering poker varieties, including Texas Hold’ Em and Omaha.
  • Private Tournament: Want an entertaining poker night with friends without having to travel? At Guts, we’ve made it easy to create your own private poker tournament. Email with a tournament name, date, buy-in, and duration. We’ll do the rest! You’ll get a private link no longer than 48 hours before your tournament. This can often be the most enjoyable way to play online poker with friends!

Expert Poker Tips

Those are the basics out of the way. Now let’s explore a few expert tips:

  • Don’t be afraid to fold on hands you’re unlikely to win. It’s better to wait until a favourable hand comes your way and bet aggressively to make the most of it.
  • Play the long game. Going “all in” might make you feel like 007, but it could quickly spell the end of your poker playing. Generally speaking, the longer you’re part of a match, the better your chances.
  • Keep a close eye on the other players to guess their betting habits and playing strategy. Noticed one player who keeps bluffing in certain scenarios? Take advantage!

Press the link for more advanced poker strategy tips!

Other Guts Casino Guides to Enjoy

Don’t worry if poker isn’t your thing or your craving something slightly less complex. We have plenty of other helpful information on the Guts blog. For example, check out our baccarat guide and roulette guide for information on these two games!