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Basic Poker Rules: How to Play Poker

Play Online PokerAny poker player needs to be adept with poker rules. You need to master the game’s rules to learn how to play poker. However, there are several poker variants in existence today. The truth is not many of us can play all poker games, which means not everyone knows all poker variants’ rules.

There are, however, basic poker rules that apply to more than one poker game. That is going to be the focus of this guide. We will also zoom in on some of the poker rules that apply only to specific popular poker games.

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Basic Poker Rules

Poker is one of the most played card games in casinos today. The ultimate objective of all poker games is to make the best poker hand to win.

Poker games, however, vary in terms of what is deemed the best poker hand. For example, some poker variants, such as Razz poker, will require the player to make the lowest-ranking hand to win. Other poker games, on the other hand, require players to make the highest-ranking hand to win.

There are also some poker games where the player must make both the best high-ranking hand and the best low-ranking hand. These poker games often have ‘Hi-Lo’ attached to their names.

Poker Cards Rules

Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. Other poker variants, such as Pai Gow poker, will have an additional card which is the joker.

There are usually two types of cards in poker games. These are the hole cards and the community cards. Hole cards are cards dealt to each player for their own use, and community cards are usually available for all the players on the table. Hole cards are thus mainly dealt face down, and community cards are dealt face up for everyone to see.

Different poker game versions deal a different card set to each player. For example, according to the Texas Hold’em poker rules, each player is only dealt two-hole cards. The Omaha poker rules differ from the Texas Hold’em poker rules in that in Omaha poker; players are dealt four-hole cards.

In Seven Card Stud poker, each player is dealt seven cards. Four of those cards are dealt face-up and three face-down. The face-up cards are also called community cards or street cards, but they are for use only by the player they have been dealt to.

Each player is dealt five cards in Five Card Draw poker all face down. Five Draw poker does not have community cards. Players, however, get the opportunity to discard their cards for other cards to improve their hands.

There are other poker variants with their own set of rules regarding how cards are dealt. However, the one poker rule that applies to all these poker games is that they all use a single deck of cards with or without jokers.

Poker Rules

Hand Rankings in Poker

Poker games are played in different forms, but the standard card values are the same across almost all poker games. Cards are ranked from the highest to the lowest hand. During the showdown, the remaining players will expose their cards, and the player with the highest-ranking hand wins the pot.

Other poker game rules, however, require the player to make the lowest-ranking hand to win. Other poker variants require that a player make the best of both the highest-ranking hand and the lowest-ranking hand.

Five cards are used to make the best hand in many poker games, except for 3-Card poker, which only uses three cards. However, we are going to focus on five-card hand rankings. These hands are arranged from the highest to the lowest ranking hands.

  • Royal Flush: A royal flush is the highest-ranking hand in many poker variants. This hand is made up of cards, ten up to an Ace of the same suit. An example of a royal flush would be Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 of spades.
  • Straight Flush: A straight flush is a hand made up of five consecutive cards of the same suit. Any five cards that are subsequential and bearing the same suit makes these hand. A straight flush example could be club cards from 2 to 6.
  • Four of a Kind: A hand with four cards of the same rank is four of a kind. For example, if you are holding a hand with four sevens, it’s a four-of-a-kind.
  • Full House: A full house is a hand with three cards of the same rank plus a pair. An example of a full house would be a hand with three eights and two nines.
  • Flush: A flush is a hand with any five cards of the same suit. An example of a full house is any five diamond cards.
  • Straight: A straight hand is a hand made up of five subsequential cards. For example, cards three to seven make a straight hand.
  • Three of a Kind: Three of a kind is any three cards of the same rank. Three fours are an example of three of a kind.
  • Two Pair: Two pair is a hand with two cards of the same rank and another two cards of the same rank. For example, two fives and two eights make two pairs.
  • One Pair: One pair is a hand with two cards of the same rank. This hand only ranks better than a high card.
  • High Card: A high card is a lowest-ranking hand. This is five cards without a pair. For example, cards two, eight, ten, king, and seven of differing suits make a high card.

Poker Hand Rankings Examples:

poker rules - hand rankings

Poker Card Dealing RulesPoker Rules - Cards Dealing

If you are playing online poker, the software would usually handle the dealing part, and you thus don’t have to worry about the dealing rules. A few poker rules are involved if you are playing with friends or online compared to playing at a land-based casino.

Before the game begins, the dealer shuffles the cards and then passes them to the player on the dealer’s left. The player on the dealer’s left also shuffles the cards and hands them to a new dealer. The new dealer offers the cards to the player on the dealer’s right to cut them.

The bottom of the card must always be protected to ensure no one sees it. Players can raise their complaints regarding the shuffle before seeing their hole cards.

Players can raise complaints about a misdeal if:

  • The dealer exposed more than one card
  • More than one extra card has been dealt
  • A player is dealt an incorrect number of cards
  • The wrong person was dealt the first card
  • Dealer deals cards to a seat without a player
  • The dealer skipped a player
  • The bottom card is exposed
  • A hole card has been dealt face up or is exposed because of the dealer’s error

If you are playing online poker, you don’t have to worry about all these rules, as the software makes zero errors. Shuffling is also unnecessary since online poker casinos use a random number generator which technically shuffles the cards.

Betting Rules in Pokerpoker betting rules

The game of poker is anchored in betting. Betting is arguably what makes this game so exhilarating. In every poker draw, there is more than one betting round, and players fall out of the game this way.

Some poker rules may require all players to place an initial bet before any cards are dealt. The dealer then deals the cards once all the players have placed their ante. After that, the first player seated on the dealer’s left side would decide whether they call, raise, or fold.

If the player calls, they must place the minimum bet and remain in the game. If a player chooses to raise, they must double the minimum bet or place any amount depending on the type of poker played. All the other players must match the bet. If a player chooses to fold, they should give up their hand and get out of the draw.

Other poker variants, such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha poker, use the so-called blind betting rules. Blind bet poker game rules require players to take turns playing the small blind and the big blind.

In these poker games, the small blind and the big blind make forced bets. The poker betting rules oblige the small blind to place half the minimum bet amount and the big blind places the minimum betting amount. The player on the left side of the big blind is the first one to decide whether they want to call, raise, or fold. Betting also goes clockwise.

Pot Limit Poker Rules

Pot-limit poker games are complicated because players are limited in how much they are allowed to raise the pot. In pot-limited poker games, players are allowed to raise, but they are only allowed to bet the total pot size, including their call.

Fixed Limit Poker Rules

Fixed-limit poker rules simply state that players can bet up to a certain amount and not exceed that limit. The limit varies with the game stage. However, the pot is expected to grow per each betting round, and so is the fixed limit.

No Limit Poker Rules

No-limit poker rules favor high rollers. In these poker games, players have no limit to how much they can raise. A player can go all in, and if the opponents are keen, they can match that player or even raise further. There are no rules stopping players from raising the pot.

Poker games also have what is called a table stakes rule. This rule limit players to only betting the money or chips they have on the table at the beginning of each game. Players are thus forbidden from drawing money from their pockets to either bet or raise.

Poker Rules – Conclusion.

As mentioned, poker game variants differ in terms of the rules that govern how they are played. We have, however, covered the basic poker rules. The only things you need to keep in mind are how the hands are ranked, how betting works, and the pot limit and no limit rules. Once you grasp these poker rules, you will easily learn each game’s rules. You can also read our guide on how to play poker to learn more about how the game is played.

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