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Poker Rules


Below you will find the basic poker rules. Learn these basics (especially the hand ranks) as these apply to all variations of poker that you might play. We tried to make these poker rules simple and easy to follow in one short guide, but please let us know if there is anything we can change to make these poker rules easier for you to understand.

For more specific poker rules on popular games, check out Texas Holdem Poker Rules, Omaha Poker Rules, and Seven Card Stud Poker Rules.

A really good way to learn to play poker is to use poker software. You can download the PartyPoker software and play for free as long as you want in their free rooms which is a great way to learn the game. PartyPoker also has their own poker rules they supply for players.

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Poker Rules - How to Play Poker

Poker uses a standard pack of playing cards, 52 cards (there are some poker games that uses more or less depending on the variations such as adding wild cards like jokers). The card ranking is as follows Ace (the highest), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (the lowest), Ace (this may also be the lowest card depending on the variations you are using, but it is usually the highest).

There are four suits (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs). No suit is higher than another. All poker hands contain five cards, the highest hand wins.

The use of Wild Cards depends on the variations, wild cards take on whatever rank or suit you want it to take. A wild card can either be a seperate card added like a joker or you may specifiy a certain card in the standard deck to be wild (such as dueces wild).

The number of cards dealt is dependant on what type of game you are playing: in 5 card stud, you are dealt five cards; in 7 card stud, you are dealt seven. I know this is obvious, but I don't want anyone to get confused. Five card draw is the standard poker game where 5 cards are dealt to each player face down.

Poker Rules - TOP

Poker rules of Betting Procedures - In most poker games you start the betting with an ante just to get the cards dealt. The money is put in the center of the table and is called the "pot".

When the betting gets to you (betting is handled in a clockwise order), you have three choices:

  • Call - betting enough to match what has been bet since the lasttime you bet in that particular betting round. An example would be if you bet 50 cents and somebody then bid $1.00, you you would owe another 50 cents . If you decide to Call then you would put the amount that you owed into the pot and you would stay in the hand.
  • Raise - when you raise you first put enough in the pot to match what has already been bet and then you raise the pot by putting an additional amount in (the limit on how much you can raise depends on the game). So lets say the initial bet was 25 cents, you could say you're raising by 25 cents and you would then have to put a total of 50 cents in. Now the other players will either Call, Raise, or fold.
  • Fold - dropping out of the current hand and losing the possibility of winning the pot. You don't have to put money in and you would only lose the ante, if it's on the first turn, or whatever you put in the pot later. Sometimes it's better to get out than to waste money on bad cards.

Each poker game has a predetermined number of betting rounds. The highest hand at the end of all betting rounds wins the pot.

Poker Rules - TOP

Ranking of Poker Hands - it wouldn't be a bad idea to print a copy of this for use during your first poker game, but I would recommend memorizing it in order to prevent uncontrolled laughter from your opponents (if you're playing online however, feel free to use it without embarassemt ;-) Also check our Poker Hand Ranks for more examples.

  1. Royal Flush - The best possible hand. Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10, all of the same suit.

  2. Straight Flush - A straight flush is a straight (5 cards in order, such as 7-8-9-10-J) that are all of the same suit. As in a regular straight, you can have an ace either high (A-K-Q-J-T) or low (A-2-3-4-5). You can not use the Ace in a wraparound and example would be K-A-2-3-4, which is not a straight.

  3. Four of a Kind - Four cards of the same rank like four Aces or Four Kings. If there are two or more hands that qualify, the hand with the higher-rank four of a kind wins.

  4. Full House - A full house is a three of a kind and a pair, such as K-K-K-2-2. When there are two full houses the tie is broken by the three of a kind. An example would be J-J-J-5-5 would beat 9-9-9-A-A. If for some reason the three of a kind cannot determine the victor then you go to the pair to decide (this would only happen in a game with wild cards).

  5. Flush - A flush is a hand where all of the cards are the same suit, such as A-J-9-7-5, all of Diamonds. When flushes ties, follow the rules for High Card.

  6. Straight - Five cards in rank order, but not of the same suit (it can be any combination of the four suits). An example of a straight is 2-3-4-5-6. The Ace can either be high or low card, either A-2-3-4-5 or 10-J-Q-K-A. Wraparounds are not allowed (an example being K-A-2-3-4). When two straights tie, the highest straight wins, K-Q-J-10-9 would beat 5-4-3-2-A. If two straights have the same value, AKQJT vs AKQJT, the pot is split.

  7. Three of a Kind - Three cards of any rank with the remaining cards not being a pair (that would be a full house if it were). Once again the highest ranking three of a kind would win. K-K-K-2-4 would beat Q-Q-Q-2-3. If both are the same rank (only in a wild card game), then the High Card rule come into effect with the remaining two.

  8. Two Pair - Two distinct pairs of card and a 5th card. The highest ranking pair wins ties. If both hands have the same high pair, the second pair wins. If both hands have the same pairs, the high card wins.

  9. Pair - One pair with three distinct cards. Highest ranking pair wins. High card breaks ties.

  10. High Card - When a hand has none of the above qualications of any of the ones listed above, nobody has even a pair or better, then it comes down to who is holding the highest ranking card. If there is a tie for the high card then the next high card determines the pot, if that card is a tie than it continues down till the third, fourth, and fifth card. The High card is also used to break ties when the high hands both have the same type of hand (pair, flush, straight, etc).

Poker Rules - TOP


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Rules of Common Poker Games

Some of the most common poker game variations are Texas Holdem, Seven Card Stud, and Omaha Poker.

Texas Holdem Poker
Poker Rules | Strategies
Seven Card Stud
Poker Rules | Strategies
Omaha Poker
Poker Rules | Strategies


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