Playing Poker is no rocket science. However, learning it for the first time can still be pretty intimidating with the high stakes involved. But over time, the more hands you play, Poker will reveal itself as undeniably a game of skill. 

It is fun, challenging, rewarding and by far one of the most spectacular card games. So if y'all want to stride into a garish casino in Vegas someday and lose all your money, then this is the right time to start learning it. Sounds good, eh

On a serious note, get your deck of cards out and gather your friends (not that they'll mind), because here's a full-proof guide to take your game from meh to amazing. You can play at home or in an online poker room. And if you excel, then you can even win a gold medal by participating in the National Poker Series, India from 13th to 27th June. 

So what is Poker? 

At a very basic level, Poker is a card game in which the players wager a sum of money over which hand (a set of five playing cards) is the best. There are different kinds of Poker games one can play, for example, Texas Hold 'Em, Omaha Hi-Lo, and many more. These games are often played using a standard deck, the arrangements for which may vary from game to game. Each player places a wager according to how much they believe their hand is worth as compared to the other players. This goes clockwise, as each player, in turn, must either pay (call) the amount of the previous wager or forfeit (fold), losing the whole amount and will have no involvement in the hand. Meanwhile, a player who is able to call also has the option to raise the amount. The round ends when all players have either called the last ante or folded. 

Poker hand rankings from the strongest to the weakest 

In Poker, a hand is a set of five playing cards that each player has. Now, each hand has a rank as compared to the relative strength of other hands participating in the match, which decides who wins the pot. Based on the worth of their hand, a player determines the next move of either calling, raising or folding. It is extremely vital to be well-versed with these hands if a player is serious about winning. So look at this chart and remember it by heart.

Basic Poker terms you should know before getting started

1. Bet - A bet is the monetary wager of an initial amount that a player makes  to start the game. 

2. Call - A call is when the opponents pay the current amount of a wager made by a player in the previous round of betting. If nobody calls, then the hand automatically is over and the uncalled player wins the money. 

3. Raise - A raise is an act of making a second wager, especially when a player wants to increase the opening ante. This will lead the player who has raised, to deal with either a call, fold or a re-raise from their opponents in the hand.

4. Fold - Folding is the act of a player ending their participation in a hand, before or after investing money. Once a player has folded, there is no requirement for them to make any more wagers. So it's basically means forfeiting their chances of winning the pot. In order to fold, the players are supposed to toss their cards facing down the dealer, who will put the cards into the pile.

5. Check - When a player wishes to pass the action onto the next person without making a wager, but keeping their cards, it's called a check. It is important to note here, that checking however gives one the option to raise, call, fold or even check again later in the hand.

6. Check Raise - This one's quite interesting. It is a common deceptive move in the game of Poker in which a player checks early in the betting round, giving an opportunity to other players in the hand to open. When that doesn't happen, the player who checked then raises in the same round. 

7. Pot - The sum of money that players wager during the course of a single hand or game is called the pot. This may vary as per the betting rules of the variant that is being played. While concluding the hand, the pot is shared by the player or players holding the winning cards.

8. Bluff - Who hasn't heard of bluffing in Poker right? But what is it exactly? So when a player makes an ante or raises just to make the opponents fold a better hand than them, and winning the pot by default. A player generally bluffs at the most opportune times during the play, which is when the opponents are most likely to fold. 

9. The flop, turn and river - In Poker, especially in community card games such as Hold'em and Omaha, the 'flop' refers to dealing the first three face-up cards to the board. The 'turn' is the second of the three post-flop betting rounds, while the 'river' is the name given the final round. 

Tips and tricks to crush your next Poker match

If you're a beginner, it's quite normal to be nervous. There are a few things that you can keep in mind, make a few strategy adjustments that could take your gaming skills from mediocre to amazing. Just like these 5 essential tips. 

1. Do what you do, but with reason - Your life doesn't need to have a purpose, but your Poker moves must. You better be able to produce a well-reasoned argument about why deviating from your regular strategy might be more profitable. If you're bored, take a break, get the blood moving and come back on your A-game. 

2. Be selectively aggressive and know when to back down - Remember when grandma said that patience always bears a sweet fruit? Are you sure she hasn't been playing Poker? Playing too many hands can destroy your chip stacks phenomenally. For all you know, your opponent may be trapping you. Remember to only play your strongest hands and avoid too many tough decisions post-flop. This will not only let you play less but also more aggressively. Hence, less risky.

3. Know when to play and when to fold - Yeah, we know you want to win. We all do. But curiosity killed the cat, and next is your number. So do yourself a favour, and lay down even a good hand when you know you're losing. Unless you want to go home in a potato sack, whenever you're unsure whether to call or fold versus a bet or raise, just fold. 

4. Don't be afraid to bet big with strong hands - If you want to crush poker, then you better know how to value bet with strong hands the right way. After all, your main target with a strong hand is to build a large pot and win big. But a lot of beginner poker players make the mistake of building large pots with one-pair hands only to eventually fold when the pot gets big. Don't be that person. If the pot is big, then you'd better have a big hand. 

5. Position is an advantage and you get it every other hand - Much like in life, success is often determined by the position you hold even at your Poker table. Use your positional advantages to amplify your profits, like taking a seat on the immediate left of a weak player you're sure you can make profits against. You see their ineptitude and raise them some of your sass!

Poker, if played with the right strategies can prove to be an extremely profitable game. And if you excel at the game, then you can also bring home a gold medal for it. The search for Indian poker's first gold medallist has begun. The National Poker Series, India has set the stage for Poker players above 18 years to go head-on against each other in a battle of skill, mental strength, endurance and consistency. 

The National Poker Series, India will kick-off on the 13th June 2021, where the participants will compete in 64 tournaments over a period of 15 days. The first edition of these tournaments will be hosted on PokerBaazi.com and can be played through smartphones and desktops from anywhere in India. Now each tournament offers medals to its podium finishers. There are 3 main leaderboards, out of which the National Poker Series, India podium will keep a count of the participants' daily medals. Based on this, top three players will win a trip to Vegas to represent India internationally and be Indian Poker's first Gold, Silver and Bronze medallists. In fact, the total prize pool of the National Poker Series, India is a whopping ₹15 Crore. For more information click here.

So download the app right now from PokerBaazi.com and participate in the National Poker Series, India.