How to Play Poker in Canada

When most players sign up to an online casino site, they imagine themselves playing one of the more iconic games. Those who envision jackpot prizes think of online slots while those with competitive spirits are drawn to poker. However, there is more to this game than most new players realise. On this page, we will tell you everything you need to know about Poker so you can play like a pro in no time. In this guide you will find:

An explanation of poker’s rules and a step-by-step guide
Poker Hand Ranking and what they mean
The definitions of poker jargon
How does poker work

How Poker Works

Poker has been around for many years and as such, there are several variations for Canadian players to enjoy. The most common question that new players ask is how poker works and in truth, this is not a simple question to answer. Each variant that is played comes with different rules and methods that are unique. In some cases, variants might even have an inverse of a traditional rule. Despite these differences, the objective of poker and the way to win is to build the strongest hand at the table.

Below we will show you the basic method of playing the most popular and simple variant out there, Texas Hold’em:

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All players will be dealt their hand and initial bets will be placed
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Community cards are dealt next. This action is follow by another round of betting
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The dealer gives each player their four card, followed by another round of betting
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The final card will then be dealt to each player, followed by the final betting round
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Players who are still in the game for the showdown will reveal their hands

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Play Poker

Now that we have shared a basic overview of how online poker works, our expert team has compiled a more detailed step-by-step guide, complete with the poker terms, for Texas Hold’em. The steps we share below can be followed for many variants of poker with a few adjustments to accommodate the specific rule of the game you’re playing

Step 1

Place your wager

Similar to other online casino games, the first thing that players need to do to commence their gaming session is place their bet. This action will take place before the cards have been dealt and can include blind bets or ante bets. Blind bets are when the player who is left of the dealer places a small bet and the player next to them has to place a larger one. Ante, on the other hand, requires players to all place identical bets.

Once initial bets are placed, the dealer will place two cards face down in front of each player. You will be given the opportunity to decline the opportunity to bet by checking, call or match other player’s bets or even fold if you were dealt an unfortunate hand. Turns will be taken around the table for each player to share what decision they have made based on their initial two cards. If one player is pleased with their hand and chooses to place a bet, every player at the table has to match the amount of the bet.

Step One Place your wager
Step 2

Look at the Community cards

The community cards are three cards that are dealt face up for all to see. It is sometimes referred to as the flop and provides players with the information required to determine whether their hand is likely to win. Once this has happened, another round of betting ensues.
Step Two Look at the Community cards
Step 3

Consider the Turn

Following the second round of betting, the turn will be revealed. This is another card that is placed face up on the table. Players can make use of this card to build an even stronger hand but it is worth noting that there can only be five cards in your hand. Players will then be allowed to another bet

Step Three Consider the Turn
Step 4

Lock it in

The last face up card to be dealt is called the river. Players who have not folded up until this point will be able to use the card to determine how strong their hand is. Before the big reveal, or showdown, players can place their final bets.
Step Four Lock it in
Step 4

Time for the Showdown

Once all bets have been taken and players have considered the flop, the river and the turn, the showdown takes place. This is where players’ hands are revealed to determine who has won the pot. The highest card, called the kicker, can be used to break ties. The player with the strongest hand emerges victorious.

Step Five Time for the Showdown

The Winning Poker Hands

Name
Hand
Sequence
Royal Flush
A - K - Q - J - 10
A, K, Q, J, and 10 all of the same suit
A of heartK of heartQ of heartJ of heart10 of heart
Straight Flush
Q - J - 10 - 9 - 8
Five cards in sequence and all of the same suit
Q of HeartJ of Heart10 of Heart9 of Heart8 of Heart
Four of A Kind
J - J - J - J - 3
Four cards of the same rank
J of diamond CardJ of Spade CardJ of club CardJ of Heart Card3 of Heart Card
Full House
J - J - 5 - 5 - 5
Three of a kind, plus a pair
J of diamond CardJ of Spade Card5 of Spade Card5 of Club Card5 of Heart Card
Flush
J - 10 - 4 - 6 - 3
Five cards of the same suit
J of Heart Card10 of Heart Card4 of Heart Card6 of Heart Card3 of Heart Card
Straight
6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10
Five cards in sequence (ace can be high or low)
6 of Diamond Card7 of Club Card8 of Heart Card9 of Spade Card10 of Club Card
Three of A Kind
7 - 7 - 7 - 9 - 3
Three cards of the same rank
7 of Diamond Card7 of Club Card7 of Heart Card9 of Club Card3 of Heart Card
Two Pair
K - K - 2 - 6 - 6
Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank
K of heart CardK of Club Card2 of Spade Card6 of Spade Card6 of Heart Card
Jacks or Better
J - J - 2 - 7 - 4
A pair of jacks, queens, kings or aces
J of club CardJ of heart Card2 of Diamond Card7 of Heart Card4 of Heart Card

How to Play Poker at a Land-based Casino

Regardless of whether you play live online poker or not, transitioning from virtual poker to real-life poker will not be a massive change for most. Taking the commute, the people and the amenities out of the equation, land-based and online poker is played in exactly the same way across all variants. However, there are a few small differences that could make or break you success at land-based gaming venues. The first thing to note is that the pace of traditional land-based poker is much slower than online. This means that you will likely play fewer hands but also get to enjoy every second of the game in real-time.

One of the biggest advantages of playing at land-based casinos is the fact that you can see all participants of the game, including the dealer. However, the ability to look at your opponents as they play is considered a vital part of success for land-based players. Playing poker to win will sometimes require that you lie. Human beings are uncomfortable with the concept of dishonesty and this shows in body language. The same can be observed of your opponents. If you start noticing that your opponent is fidgeting, sweating or displaying unnatural body language, this is the time to focus. However, keep in mind that some players have perfected the feigning of these behaviours and will use it to bait you.

What a Good Starting Poker Hand Looks Like

As mentioned above, hand ranking cards are a good way for new players to decide which moves to make. However, there are times when the bigger question is whether you should attempt to make a move at all or simply fold. The strength of your hand is vital to your success and playing with cards that basically have no potential to win is a fool’s errand. You’re likely to end up slimming your bankroll down significantly for no reason at all.

Starting Hands

Starting Hands

At the beginning of each game, you will be dealt two cards. Ideally, these cards will be strong. If you’re new to poker, starting the game with a strong hand will minimise your chances of blowing your bankroll too soon. The simple fact is that if you are dealt a good hand from the get-go, your chances of winning increase significantly.

If you’re new to poker and feel like winning is an impossibility, we’re here to remind you that it’s not. If you play a careful game and stick to the guidelines, you do stand a chance of winning especially if you do not hesitate when making decisions. If you become aware that you are losing the game, even with a strong hand, we suggest that you fold and save your bankroll for another game.

If you’re not quite sure what a good hand looks like, take a look below:

Potential Winning/Strong Hands

High pairing cards like K-K, A-A, J-J or Q-Q are naturally worth raising with because this represents a very strong hand.
strong hands strong hands strong hands strong hands strong hands

Other examples of strong hands include A-Q, A-K and cards of the same suit. However, you should attempt to raise before the flop is revealed. These hands are also perfect for leading you into continuation bets or bluffing. In the event that you have the cards listed above and you raise before the flop and the revealed card does not help you build a stronger hand, you can still place another bet to make your opponents believe that the flop was beneficial to your hand.

Strong HandsStrong HandsStrong Hands

Intermediate Hands

Card combinations such as Q-10, K-10 and J-10 are considered to be medium strength in addition to hands such as 7-7,8-8 and 9-9. While these cards are not the strongest, they can still be taken advantage of in an aggressive betting round before the flop is revealed. However, this depends entirely on the dynamic and positioning of the opponents at your poker table.

Intermediate HandsIntermediate HandsIntermediate HandsIntermediate HandsIntermediate HandsIntermediate Hands

Marginal Hands

Card combinations such as 3-3, 2-2 and A-9 are what we refer to as marginal hands. While not the strongest hand, they’re not completely useless if you know how to take advantage of them. This hand is perfect to call before the flop. Expert players suggest that you disguise the nature of your hand by building three-of-a-kind with the flop. Once you have this combination you can bet aggressively, thus turning the odds around.

One of the things that many Canadian players enjoy about poker is the variety that it provides. Aside from the variants that can be played, each player at a table adds a unique style to the game. This means that no two poker tables are identical. If you are playing at a tight table, we suggest that you consult your strategy to exploit possible weaknesses and work your way up.

Marginal HandsMarginal HandsMarginal Hands

Basic Poker Rules

Now that you know the basic rules and method of playing online poker you might think that you know enough to bet with real money. While this is somewhat true, we have shared a few more details of rules that can come into play based on the variant you have selected. Below you will see some of the more in-depth rules, what poker jargon you will come across and what you will be obligated to do:

Basic Poker Rules Icon

Blinds

Blinds can be big or small across all games and variants. A blind bet is a sum of money that two players are obligated to pay in each hand. This boosts the overall value of the pot. Blinds are an unavoidable part of playing poker but is made somewhat sweeter if you have a strong hand when your turn comes.
Basic Poker Rules Icon

Decks

Poker games at both land-based casinos and online offerings are played with one deck. This is done to avoid the possibility of strange hand combinations that would make hand ranking charts obsolete. The extensive shuffling of the deck ensures that players are unable to guess the cards coming their way, thus promising random results.
Basic Poker Rules Icon

Rake

The rake refers to the percentage of the pot that the house will take to generate profit from the game. This percentage will be shared in the house rules and can be between 3 and 10%.
Basic Poker Rules Icon

Chips

Poker is played with circular plastic disks called chips. The number of chips that players receive when they play poker online or in real-life will depend on whether you are playing in a tournament or not and the table limits in place.
Basic Poker Rules Icon

Participants

Theoretically speaking, poker games can be played by more than 20 people at one table. Practically, this would be chaotic and slow. Most casino operators have opted to set the maximum number of participants at a single table at 10.
Basic Poker Rules Icon

Cards

The number of cards you are dealt and whether they are dealt face up or down will depend on the variant of poker that you are playing. We recommend that you do research on how you will receive your cards before you select your preferred variant.

All About Pot Odds

The term Pot Odds refers to the relationship between the size of the contemplated bet and the size of the game’s pot. Pot odds can be used to help players determine whether placing a bet is a smart move or not. To calculate these odds you will need to consider the size of the pot, the size of the bet and number of cards that you would require to build a winning hand. As you can see, pot odds can either make or break your game and are worth understanding.
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All About Pot Odds

As an example, let's imagine that you were dealt a pair of 3s at the start of the game. To get another 3 to make a set, you would need to rely on the flop to provide the missing card. However, the odds of this happening can be calculated by taking the total number of cards in the deck, the number of cards that you would need and factoring in the two cards that your opponents hold. Therefore, the odds of the flop providing you with the right card are 7.5:1

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All About Pot Odds
Once you have calculated your odds of receiving the card you need, you will need to compare it to the pot odds. If the pot is worth C$10 and the call bet is set at C$2, then the pot ration is 5:1. If you are standing to make less than 7.5:1 for your bet, as is the case with the example, the pot odds are not enough to logically make the stipulated call bet.
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All About Pot Odds
In the event that you have a gut feeling to make the call anyway and the flop does not reveal the card that you needed, your chances of getting the card that you missed just went up. However, the game can become quite aggressive after the flop is revealed and you will be looking at pot odds of 10:1. If the odds are at 9:1 this is the perfect time to make the call.

Ready to Put Your Poker Knowledge to the Test?

When it comes to playing poker, we have found that knowledge is power. As such, we have provided our Canadian players with tons of information to make sure that they are joining every poker game armed to the teeth. We have covered a wide variety of poker aspects in hopes that this will boost your confidence and your chances of winning your next game.