Poker rules are easy to learn, but it can take a lifetime to master the game. This makes it a perfect game for players of all levels. Although poker has been around for 200 years, it exploded over the last 20 years with the introduction of online poker. Television coverage increased and poker tournaments became more popular. More and more people started to play poker and professional players became household names. But to win at poker you need to fully understand the rules. This guide will cover the basic poker rules and versions that you can find online today.
Poker Rules Explained
The basic rules of poker are easy to understand. But there are many variations of the game, each with its own set of rules that make each version unique. Poker uses a regular deck of cards, and players try to make the best hand possible with their cards. During the game, players will bet on how strong they think their hand is. When the round ends, whoever has the best hand will win the pot. While the gameplay is straightforward, players must make many tricky decisions during the game. This is where it becomes incredibly interesting to play poker.
Poker was developed in the early 19th century in the US. There is much debate about what games influenced its creation, but it may have been a French or Persian game. Then, around 100 years ago, the University of the Philippines was established, and this brought many foreigners to the region, including many from the US. This influx of foreigners to the university likely brought with it many new games such as poker.
Card rankings in poker run from the highest card to the lowest. Aces are high, which gives us an order of A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Although the Ace is the highest card, it can act as the low card in a straight running A to 5.
Hand Rankings from best to worst:
Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10 all the same suit
Straight Flush: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 all the same suit
Four of a Kind: 5, 5, 5, 5, x
Full House: 9, 9, 9, 3, 3
Flush: All cards are the same suit
Straight: 7, 8, 9, 10, J
Three of a Kind: 6, 6, 6, x, x
Two Pair: 4, 4, 2, 2, x
Pair: Q, Q, x, x, x
High Card: K, x, x, x, x
There are several actions available to you when it is your turn to play. With a bad hand you can choose to Fold. If there is no bet coming into you, you can also Check and stay in the hand for free. With a good hand, you can Bet or Raise. If someone has already bet, you can Call by adding the bet amount, or Re-raise if you’re confident of winning the hand.
Most poker games have a pot limit. This means players must bet an amount that is less than or equal to the amount in the pot. Some games have a fixed limit that is set before the hand begins. Games like Omaha and Texas Hold’em have a pot limit, so it’s important to track how much money is currently in the pot. Understanding limits is vital to becoming a successful poker player.
Antes and Blinds
To help build up an initial pot, poker games use a betting system of antes or blinds. With antes, players must place a bet before they look at their cards. This means that more players will be in the hand initially than in a game that uses blinds. Small and big blinds are bet by two players at the start of the game. The remaining players decide whether to play or fold after they see their cards.
Table stakes are a very important concept in poker. A player cannot bet more money than they had in front of them at the start of the hand. Otherwise, players could add more money to their bank whenever they have the best hand. Knowing this rule, players must be aware of how much money is in their bank, as well as how much their opponents have, to make the most of a good hand.
Some terms are important to know in Poker. During the Flop, cards are placed face-up onto the table. Pre-Flop, players can bet on their hole cards. After betting on the Flop, another face-up card called the Turn is added. The final community card is known as the River, and this leads to the last round of betting. Finally, the Showdown will reveal who has the winning hand. Not all games make it to the Showdown.
Betting and Raising Rules
When it is your turn to play, there are many betting options to choose from. You can play it safe and check to the next player, without adding any money to the pot. With a good hand, you may choose to bet or raise. If a player bets into you before your turn, there are more options to consider. You can fold, call, raise, or re-raise in this position.
When a player makes a bet before you, you must decide whether it is worth paying to stay in the round. Because of this, many rounds end with one player betting and everyone else folding. In this instance, the player does not have to reveal his cards. However, if two or more players make it to the final betting round, the hands are revealed in the showdown, where the best one wins the pot.
When a player folds, his hand becomes dead and the game continues without him. A dead hand may also occur when a player breaks the rules. An example would be if a player calls the clock on another player. The player must make his play before the clock runs out, otherwise, his hand will become dead and he must fold. Other infractions can also occur, most of them based on poker etiquette.
Popular Poker Variations And Their Rules
You can learn the basics of poker in a short time, but each game variation has extra rules to learn. Most games follow the basic structure of trying to get the best hand. But some games reward a player for having the worst hand. Other games have community cards face-up on the table, and players use these with their hidden cards to try and make the best hand. Playing a new variation may seem difficult at first, but it usually only takes a few hands to learn the gameplay.
Texas Hold’em is easily the most popular version of poker today. It is the most televised poker game and usually the first one that people play. Each player receives 2 cards that no other player can see, and there are 5 face-up cards placed onto the table. Players select the best 5 cards from their hand and the shared community cards. A full house, three of a kind, or two pairs are commonly the winning poker hand.
Omaha is another variation that follows the same poker rules as Texas Hold’em. The first difference is that players receive 4 hole cards instead of 2. Players must use 2 of their hole cards and 3 of the shared cards to make their hand. There are better hands in Omaha, so it is common for a straight flush or four of a kind to win the pot. Three of a kind is not as strong as in Hold’em.
In Stud poker, there are no shared cards on the table. Instead, players have individual hands. There are some cards face-up that all players can see, and some cards remain face down as hole cards. The gameplay is similar to a Hold’em game, except there are more face-up cards on the table. It is important to use all these cards to try and gauge the possible strength of an opponent’s hand.
As one of the earliest and simplest poker games, draw poker rules are very straightforward and there are no face-up cards. Players receive their cards face down and decide on which cards they wish to keep or discard. You receive new cards to replace the discards and move to the showdown after betting. With only 2 rounds of betting, it is an easy game for beginners to follow.
Lowball is a version of 5-card draw poker where the player with the lowest hand wins. It follows normal draw poker rules, but you may also discard all your cards in some versions. After the last round of betting, the player who has the low hand will win the pot. There are many different variations of lowball where certain hands are best. Make sure to check the poker rules for the variation you are playing.
You play Hi/Lo variants using normal poker rules, but the player with the highest hand and the player with the low hand share the pot. There are some extra rules to follow when making the low hand. For example, in Omaha Hi/Lo, the 5 cards that make up the low hand must consist of cards lower than an 8.
Live Dealer Poker
Live dealer poker is the best way to recreate the feeling you get when you play in a brick-and-mortar casino. You can interact and chat with the dealer, so it has the same atmosphere as playing for real. Having a hidden three of a kind, or flopping a straight flush, are great feelings in poker. But they are even greater at a live dealer game since you feel like you are at a real table.
Poker Tournaments vs Cash Games
Poker rules and betting rounds remain the same whether you play in a tournament or cash game. The biggest difference is that you can leave a cash game at any time. But in a tournament, each player starts with the same number of chips. This levels the playing field and you need to play with more caution to ensure you are not eliminated early. Winning a tournament is like beating every other player in the room.
Practice With Free Poker Games
As with any casino game, it is important to know poker rules before you play poker for real money. At many online casinos, you can play poker for free to test your knowledge of poker rules. You also need a poker face to play poker well. Play for free and practice how to bet without smiling when you have a winning hand.
Using Poker Rules to Win Money
To play poker well, it is not enough to simply learn poker rules. In most games, the best poker hand wins the pot, but there is so much more to consider. Knowing hand rankings and the best poker hands may help you win, but you need to get money into the pot. From the big blind to the last round of betting, you need to be a clever player to not scare away your opponents.