Basic Poker Rules – Learn How To Play Poker and Win in 2023!
Learning how to play poker is not as difficult as you might think, and this article will surely help you understand the basic poker rules and dynamics of this game.
While it might take some time to master all the rules of poker, I am sure that you will quickly get a hold of this game and learn how to win.
However, let’s clarify one thing out of the bat.
Poker has many different variations, so we need to specify the format if we actually want to discuss a concrete game. Many players assume they are thinking about Texas Holdem rules when they want to learn how to play poker, but it is actually just one of the alternatives.
This article will help you learn poker rules of all the most popular poker games and be an ultimate guide on how to play poker.
Just before that, we have to cover poker basics and game-flow rules so that you know what’s happens at the table.
Poker Rules – Pregame Setup
If you are playing poker online, then most of the preparation is done for you, and you only need to sit down to enjoy the action.
However, you still need to understand what is needed for this game and how to follow poker rules when playing, so let’s start from the beginning and cover what you will need to play poker.
Poker Cards Deck
According to the official poker rules, this game is played with a standard 52-card deck containing cards from Deuces to Aces.
While poker movies seem to like the idea of adding Jokers in the deck as well, this is not the case in real poker games, and you will hardly find any poker action that includes Jokers in the mix.
Of course, this might be the case in some video poker formats, but not in real poker games according to the basic rules.
You should know that poker is played strictly with one deck.
However, you might see some casinos using the second one to speed up the game along with automatic shuffling machines (ASM). If a casino is using an ASM, this is how it looks:
- The dealer uses the 1st deck to deal the cards and play the hand while the 2nd deck stays in the shuffling machine.
- When the hand is over, the dealer takes the 2nd deck out of ASM and places the first one into the machine.
- Then he can deal the second hand without the need to shuffle cards which saves a lot of time
- When the hand finishes, the dealer repeats the whole process so everyone can play poker without interruptions.
This is used to speed up the action and is only relevant in a professional setup or for high-stakes poker games, so one deck is enough for organizing a home game and even for the most casinos for that matter.
While it is not mentioned in poker rules, chips are actually another part of the game you can’t go without.
Of course, you can use something else instead of actual chips to measure the betting and the pot, but it is still needed to play a proper game of Poker.
You need poker chips to make your bets, count the pot, and even know how much you have in your stack, so there is no workaround.
Luckily it is not complicated. If you want to understand how to play poker with chips and set up the games, you can see typical poker chip values and use this info when needed.
If you are organizing your own poker games, then you should buy a proper set instead of using monopoly money or anything else.
It will help you create a unique feel of the real game, so you should invest a couple of $ to get poker chips set for your games.
Most importantly, always distribute enough chips at the start of the Poker session so that every player can easily make bets and wouldn’t need to exchange chips back and forth constantly.
The Dealer Button
If you want to learn how to play poker professionally, you will also need to have a dealer button in your poker game.
Luckily, this can be anything used to mark who is dealing the cards.
While this might sound not as important initially, it is one of the poker basics that have to be in the game.
- The dealer’s button marks who is the last to act in the hand
- It shows where the small and big blinds are
- It helps to deal cards in the right order
You will see a small mark with a “D” letter in online poker games to know where the dealer is, but you surely need something to mark it in your games as well to avoid all of the confusion.
The Buy-in and Fees In Poker
When you have everything prepared for a great Poker night, you need to decide how much money will be involved in the game, commonly referred to as a buy-in.
Buy-in is the minimum amount of money required to sit down in a specific poker game.
It can further be divided into Tournaments (MTT) and Cash Games buy-ins, so let’s break it down:
- Tournament buy-in is usually listed along with the fee that you have to pay for the organizer. For example, $100+$10 buy-in means that $100 will go to the prize pool, and $10 is a fee paid to cover the organizer's expenses.
- According to the Poker Rules, cash games buy-ins are usually referred to as the maximum amount you can bring to the table. For example, in an NL100 game, the maximum buy-in is $100, and you will be playing with the big blind of $1.
Various stakes and buy-in levels range from microgames with just a couple of $ to absolute nosebleeds where people put millions of dollars on the line.
Understanding the Buy-in is very important when learning how to play poker since you do not want to jump into the games you can’t afford or are not yet prepared to counter.
Dealing The Cards In Poker
When you are prepared to start playing poker, you need to deal the cards for every player at the table.
Before the action starts, you have to decide who is going to be the dealer.
The standard practice is that everyone draws a card, and who has the highest ones becomes the dealer in the first hand. After that, the dealer button moves to the left, and everyone will be the dealer when it is their turn.
While some of the formats apply different governs, you should be following these tips for the most part:
- Dealing starts with the first player in the immediate left to the dealer and continues clockwise.
- Deal one card to each player at a time.
- Do not throw cards too high in the air to avoid anyone seeing it.
- Make sure each player secures his cards.
This is how cards are dealt in casinos and most professional games, so make sure to understand the hand's flow and deal in the same fashion if you are the one who has to do it.
Here is a short video on how to deal cards according to Texas Holdem's official poker rules.
Community card games like Texas Holdem and Pot-limit Omaha have different Poker Rules than Stud or Razz variants.
In community card games, every player gets the hole cards that only he can use, and then community cards are dealt in the middle for everyone.
Let’s take Texas Holdem rules as an example. So this is how the flow of the hand looks:
- Every player receives 2 hole cards that only they can use.
- The first betting round happens, and then 3 community cards are dealt in the middle of the table that everyone can use.
- The second betting round happens, and the 4th community card is dealt at the middle of the table.
- The third betting round occurs, and the last 5th card is deal in the middle for everyone.
- The final 4th betting round happens, and players go to showdown if there is more than one left in the pot.
The idea of community cards in Poker Rules is quite simple since it can be used by every player to make the best possible combination, and it makes the game much more “scientific.”
Since you know five of the cards in the middle, you can estimate what your opponent might have and make your decisions based on that.
In games without community cards, such as 5 card draw, there is a lot of guessing since you do not have much information on your opponent’s hands.
Positions at the poker table
Few things are as important as positions at the table when you began playing, so I will cover the most important things.
However, not to make this article longer than it needs to be, I will not dive deep into the strategy, so just read the dedicated post about poker positions strategy and how to get the most out of it.
That said, here how it actually looks at the table:
As we discussed earlier, you start dealing cards from the Small Blind position and then continue clockwise until everyone has their hole cards, and then the poker hand begins.
The first player to act will always be the one who is in the immediate left of the big blind.
Like with dealing cards, the action continues clockwise, and every poker player has different options depending on what has happened before in the hand. We will discuss this in more detail in the next paragraph.
Now, I want to highlight why your position at the table is so important when learning how to play poker.
- It determines how many opponents you have left to act after you.
- The position is the most important consideration when choosing which hands to play.
- It defines your seat after the flop and your absolute position for all later streets.
- Late positions enable you to bluff more often and steal blinds.
The best position in poker is the Button (BTN) since you are always last to act after the flop and can see what other players do before making your decision, which is a huge advantage on its own.
The second best position is CO, then MP, and so on until we reach the Small and Big Blinds, which are the worst positions in poker since you have to put your money before the hand even start without knowing your cards. That’s why it is called “blinds.”
The most important adjustment you need to make when learning how to play poker is to adjust your opening ranges based on your seat at the table.
To learn optimal play here, you can get the poker cheat sheet with all the information in one place.
Poker Rules and Actions at the table
Betting is an essential part of Poker and is very strictly defined by poker rules to avoid any confusion.
Basically, there are five different actions you can perform at the table:
If you decide that you do not want to play your hand, you can fold it any time when playing Poker, but you must only do it when it is your turn to act.
This action can only be performed if no one bet before you, but you already have contributed to the pot, which means passing the action to another player.
Preflop, it can only happen to the Big Blind player if no one raises, and one or more players decided to call the initial BB amount, then the player in the Big Blind can check and see the flop.
However, every player can opt to check postflop and pass his action to another player or see the next card without investing any more in the pot, if no one has made a bet before them.
Calling is the passive action of putting the same amount of money into the pot as someone already bet.
You can call a bet preflop and postflop, as long as you do not want to fold your poker hand or increase that bet to get more money in the middle.
Betting means placing a bet if no one has made it before you.
This refers to postflop action since if you opt to bet preflop, it means you are actually making a raise, which is the next term of poker rules that we will discuss.
So if you see the flop, turn, or river and your opponent check and you decide to put some money into the pot, it means you are betting since you are the first one to put your chips in the middle in this particular round.
Last but not least is raising. It simply means that you are going over the top of the current bet made by another player and re-open the action.
When you raise, another player will have an option to decide if he wants to raise back, call, or fold to your bet.
Many games have specific limits according to the Poker rules, which is often seen in the name. Here are three of the most popular options:
- NL – refers to “no-limit,” which means you can bet any amount from your stack at any time in the hand.
- PL – is the shortcut for “pot-limit,” which means that the maximum amount you can bet in any given situation is the amount that is already in the pot.
- FL – this is “fixed-limit,” meaning that you can only make fixed bets that are specified in the Rules of Poker for that game. For example, if you are playing a fixed limit cash game with $1/2$, you will only be able to bet or raise in the increments of $1 and 2$ depending on the street in the hand and rules for that specific format.
The most popular option is NL games, and it is almost always used when playing Texas Holdem.
However, some Poker games such as Pot Limit Omaha are often played as PL, and games such as Stud or Razz are often played with a Fixed Limit option.
Poker Betting Rounds
Different Poker formats can have different betting rounds, but the action follows the same logic in all of it so it is worth spending a couple of minutes to understand the game flow when learning how to play poker.
We can take Texas Holdem as an example and analyze different betting rounds to understand how it works.
Preflop – The first betting round
When the Poker hand is dealt, the first betting round begins with the player sitting to the Big Blind's left.
- He can FOLD – if his hand is weak and he does not want to play it;
- He can CALL – match the amount of the big blind if he chooses;
- He can RAISE – increase the bet to the size that he wants, which follows the game's limits.
When the first player makes the decision, it is time for one sitting in immediate left to him, and all action continues clockwise until everyone makes the decision and matches bet sizes or folds.
If a player decides to fold, he is not going to be involved in the hand anymore.
Other players also have these three options and can decide based on their hand's strength if everyone folded until them.
For example, if the first player calls, the second one raises, and everyone folds to the first player he can fold, raise, or call and see the flop.
When everyone makes their decisions, and the bets are matched (someone raised, another player called), you are going to see the flop.
The Flop – Second betting round in Poker
This is where it gets interesting. When the preflop round ends, the first three community cards are dealt on the flop, and everyone can evaluate if it helped improve the hand with their hole cards.
The action starts with the first active player sitting in the dealer's left and continues clockwise like always. Again, all players have to make their decisions and can choose from:
- betting (placing a bet if no one did that before them),
- checking (passing the action to another player, can only be done if no one bet before you),
- calling (matching the amount of the bet another player made),
- raising (increasing the initial bet by putting more chips in the middle),
- folding (letting go of your hand if you do not want to play it).
When everyone announces the action and bets are matched, you continue to the third betting round on that Poker hand.
The Turn – Third betting round
When everyone acted, and all bets are matched on the flop, you will see the turn card.
After seeing the fourth community card, the entirely new betting rounds begin, and the action follows in the same way as on the flop.
The River – Forth betting round
The last community card, which you will see, is called the river. The fifth card is placed face-up, and another betting round occurs in the same way as on the previous street.
Depending on your spot, you still have an option to check, bet, raise, call, or fold.
When all the betting action is completed, the remaining player will go into the showdown.
Everyone opens their hole cards, and the player with the best five-card combination takes down the pot.
If everyone folds before reaching the showdown, the last player standing in the pot takes it down without even showing his cards.
Poker Rules: The Showdown
According to official Poker Rules, the player who made the last aggressive action (bet or raise) has to show his cards first when you reach the showdown.
If you bet on the river and your opponent called, you will need to show your hand before your opponent does.
This basic rule of poker is in place to avoid ego battles and unnecessary discussion at the table, making things easier for everyone. However, if you know you have the best possible hand in the end, you can feel free to show it first and avoid slow roll, which is considered unethical behavior.
That being said, do not make the mistake of rushing into things when all cards are tabled at the end.
If you are uncertain who wins or how to proceed further, simply wait for the dealer to announce the winner of the hand, according to the Poker Rules.
While all of this happens automatically in online poker games, you do not need to do anything even in a brick and mortar casino. The dealer will take care of everything and declare the winner of the hand and push chips to the player who is taking down the pot.
However, learning and understanding how to rank winning hands is an essential part of playing poker, so we will cover it next.
Poker Hand Rankings
In this part, you will find the list of all possible combinations ranging from the strongest hand – Royal Flush, to the weakest – just a high card.
You can learn everything there is to know in our detailed guide about poker hand rankings, but this is one of the essential parts of Poker Rules, so you should not start a game if you have any doubts about what beats what in poker.
To make things clear and easy, this is a list of the best poker hands in order:
#1. Royal Flush: Ace, King, Queen, Jack and a Ten of the same suit – A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ T♣
#2. Straight Flush: five cards in a row with the same suit that is not A-high, such as – T♠ 9♠ 8♠ 7♠ 6♠
#3. Four of a Kind: combination with 4 cards of the same rank, like 8♠ 8♥ 8♦ 8♣ 4♣
#4. Full House: three cards of the same rank and a pair, like J♥ J♦ J♣ 5♥ 5♣
#5. Flush: five cards of the same suit that are not in a row, like K♥ Q♥ 8♥ 5♥ 3♥
#6. Straight: five cards in a row, like 5♥ 6♦ 7♣ 8♣ 9♦
#7. Three of a Kind: three cards of the same rank and two cards that do not match, like 9♥ 9♠ 9♣ 6♦ 3♠
#8. Two Pair: combination with two different pairs, like 4♣ 4♠ 7♣ 7♠ K♣
#9. One Pair: two cards with the same rank and three random cards, like A♦ A♥ J♣ 7♦ 3♥
#10. High Card: when all your cars are with different ranks and with no combination, like K♥ Q♠ 8♣ 3♠ 2♦
Download the full resolution picture for later use!
If you are not sure if you have a winning hand or why the pot was rewarded to one player instead of another, refer to this part of Poker Rules, and you should have all your questions answered.
That being said, there will be situations where both players have a similar hand, and you still need to declare the winner.
If both players have equal strength hands, then “poker kicker” comes into play, and the extra card of this combination determines the winner. For example, A A J J 5 would lose to A A J J Q since Queen is higher than a 5.
While this might be confusing while learning how to play poker and all of this game's ins and outs, you should quickly get a hold of it since previously mentioned hand rankings can easily determine the winner.
Poker Rules FAQ
If you still seek answers about Poker Rules or how to play poker to win more often, these frequently asked questions should give you the answers you need.
How To Play Poker – Texas Holdem Poker Rules
Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular poker variant in the world, and everyone can join the action by learning simple Poker Rules.
Your goal is to make the best five-card combination which we covered above, or bluff your opponent and get him to fold.
In Texas Holdem, every player gets two cards, which are faced down and known as hole cards. You should not show your holdings to anyone in the middle of the hand and only do that when you reach the showdown where you have to show the hand to decide the winner.
This is how a typical hand looks according to Texas Holdem poker rules:
- Players are dealt two cards each, and the first betting round begins
- Then three community cards are dealt in the middle that everyone can use
- Another betting round followed by the 4th card dealt in the middle
- One more betting round after which the last 5th card is dealt in the middle
- The last betting round and the showdown.
There could be up to 5 community cards in Texas Holdem if you see the river. The first three are dealt on the flop, then one on the turn, and the last one on the river.
As you already know, these cards are visible all the time, and every player can use those to make a winning hand combined with their holdings.
You can use one or both of your cards to make the hand, or you can play the board, which means you are using all five community cards if you are unable to make a better combination with your hole cards.
In the end, the player who has the best combination wins if the showdown is reached, but you can always bluff your opponent and take down the pot without it.
Texas Holdem Strategy Tips
There are quite a few things you need to learn to advance your game past the basic knowledge, and if you want to master how to play poker faster, here are a couple of tips for you:
- Select the right hands to play. If you play many weak hands or just premium ones, you will leave a lot of money at the table. To help you out with this, I created a printable poker cheat sheet.
- I highly recommend getting familiarised with statistics and how to use it to gain an advantage over your opponents.
- You should learn more about GTO (game theory optimal) play. I wrote an extended guide comparing and explaining the GTO poker strategy vs. exploitative play.
- If you are up against weaker players who have many leaks and are just bleeding money, you should not be looking to balance your ranges and be unexploitable. Instead, you should concentrate on exploiting their mistakes.
- Take advantage of available poker software and always keep learning.
Before jumping into the games, you should be aware that there are many things you need to master, and some of them are not even strategy related.
The first one that comes to my mind is bankroll management. It is an essential skill to learn, which will help you build confidence and enable you to learn the game much faster.
If you follow, correct guidelines and separate your poker bankroll from everyday life, you will not feel under pressure and make better decisions.
Moreover, it is equally important to have enough money to outlive swings, which will inevitably happen because of poker variance. This alone will prevent you from tilting and unnecessary losing money and will be a good addition to your overall Texas Holdem strategy.
Another one of Texas Holdem tips is to prepare for your games.
If you spend a few minutes before your session to take care of all your basic needs, turn off all distractions and prepare yourself mentally, you will make much better decisions and will be able to keep your concentration for longer.
These are just a few tips that will help you get started.
If you want to take it one step further, here is a dedicated article covering all of the most important Texas Holdem strategy tips.
Go through this list before sitting down to play, and you will surely be a better player and know way more than just basic poker rules.
Texas Holdem Odds
Poker is a math game, so learning Texas Holdem odds is crucial. To be honest, there are plenty of numbers that you should know, and it could take a lot of time to gather all this information, so I did it for you.
Here is a dedicated page to poker odds where you will find the most valuable information in one place.
I do not want to leave you without anything here, so I put the most important Texas Holdem odds in this table:
|A chance to hit a pair on the flop||32.4%|
|Being dealt a pocket pair||5.9%|
|Three cards of the same suit on the flop||5.2%|
|Probability of over card hitting on the flop when holding JJ||57%|
|Winning preflop all-in with AA against 22||82.2%|
|Flopping a straight||1.3%|
|Flopping a flush||0.8%|
How To Play Poker – Pot-Limit Omaha Poker Rules
Omaha is a community card game similar to Texas Hold'em in many ways, but there are several important differences in PLO poker rules you need to know about before you take on what is certainly the second most popular poker variation out there.
The first and the most obvious difference of poker rules is that you're dealt four cards instead of just two you get in Hold'em.
Hand rankings are still the same, and so is the action as be already covered in the poker basics section, i.e. there is a small blind and the big blind, and the action begins with the first player left to the big blind.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that most Omaha games are played with pot-limit rules, i.e., the biggest amount you can bet on any street is the size of the pot. Occasionally, you'll also find No Limit Omaha tables without these limits, but such games are quite infrequent.
We've mentioned that you get dealt four cards in Omaha. However, you can only use two (and two only) cards to make your hand on the flop, turn, or river.
This is often confusing for novice players when learning how to play PLO poker but what it means is that you can only make a five-card hand using two cards from your hand.
For example, on a board containing four spades in Omaha, you don't have a flush if you only have an Ace of spades. Likewise, if the board is all spades, you don't have the flush unless you have two spade cards in your hand.
On the showdown, the best five-card hand wins, using the standard poker hands rankings system used in Hold'em and many other poker forms.
How To Play Poker – Omaha Hi-Lo Poker Rules
Omaha Hi-Lo is a variation of the Omaha game and is played in the same fashion as traditional Omaha except for one important aspect.
When it is time to showdown hands, the pot can be split between the best high (hi) and the best low (lo) poker hands.
The best high hand is determined the same way as in standard Omaha game, but you have to follow an entirely different logic when it comes to low hands.
To have the low hand, you need five different cards ranking between Ace and Eight, i.e., A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
It is important to keep in mind that all five cards need to be different, i.e., if you have five low cards but one of them is paired up, you don't have a low qualifying hand.
When it comes to forming low hands, poker rules are the same as for high hands, i.e., you must use two and only two cards from your hand and three community cards. In the event there are more than one low hands at the showdown, the one with the lowest card wins. For example, A, 5, 6, 7, 8 beats 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Straights and flushes don't count against the player in Omaha Hi-Lo.
If there is no low hand at the showdown, then the high hand will win the entire pot, in which case the player is said to have scooped. It is also possible for the same player to have the best high and the best low hand, in which case they'll also win the entire pot.
One final thing to keep in mind about Omaha Hi-Lo is that you can use the combination of any two cards to make your hands, so you can use two completely different cards for your high and low poker hands.
All combinations are allowed as long as you use two cards from your hand and three community cards.
This makes the rules of this poker game somehow difficult to master when you are just learning how to play poker, so make sure to understand pot equity for various situations not to leave money at the table.
How To Play Poker – 7 Card Stud Poker Rules
7 card stud used to be one of the most popular poker variations before Hold’em and Omaha emerged onto the scene. It is also by far the most popular form of stud games.
Games belonging to this group are significantly different from these two modern variations because they feature no community cards whatsoever. Instead, players need to make the best hands with the cards they’re dealt individually making 7-card stud poker rules slightly different from the rest.
The goal is to make the best five-card poker hand from the seven received cards. The game uses the standard poker hand rankings for high poker variations.
7 card stud is usually played in the fixed limit format, which means that betting is limited, and your bet sizes are fixed on each particular street.
The hand of 7 Card Stud begins with all players posting the ante. Then, everyone receives three cards, two of them face down, and the last one face up for everyone to see.
The player showing the lowest card according to the standard card rankings (2 being the lowest and Ace being the highest) is the one to start the betting.
If two players have the same lowest card value, the one with the lower suit will act first.
Suits are ranked, from the lowest to the highest, as clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades (the easiest way to remember this is simply memorizing they go in alphabetical order, C, D, H, S). The action then continues clockwise until all players have acted.
Then the next card is dealt face-up, and the next betting round begins. On this and all subsequent streets, the best hand showing will initiate the action, be it the highest card, a pair, etc.
After betting is finished, the fifth and sixth cards are dealt face up (with a round of betting in between as well). Finally, the seventh card (7th street) is dealt, and the final round of betting ensues.
In the end, if there are two or more players still active in the hand, they’ll turn over their holdings, and the best poker hand will win the entire pot.
7 Card Stud poker rules can be a bit tricky initially, so make sure to learn it all before you practice how to play stud poker games with real money.
Betting Rules in 7 Card Stud
The biggest thing that could confuse players new to 7 card stud poker rules is the betting. The game has a fixed betting structure, with the lower and higher limit, also often referred to as the small and big bet.
The ante is usually set at ¼ of the lower limit, although this can vary, while the big bet is usually double the amount of the small bet.
Once the action starts, the player with the lowest card has an option to do one of the following:
- Pay the bring-in (a fraction of the lower bet)
- Complete (pay the full amount of the lower bet)
The player to the left of the bring-in is the next to act, and they can choose to fold, call the bet in front of them (match the amount) or raise. If the first player has just posted a bring-in, the first raise would be the amount of the small bet.
In a $1/$2 Stud game, this would be $1.
If the first player completed, then the raise would be double the amount of the small bet, i.e., $2. The next raise would be to $3, i.e., not doubling the previous raise but adding an extra small bet.
The action continues around the table, and each player is given the same options (fold, call, or raise). However, in 7 card stud, the number of raises per round is usually limited to three, so once there are three raises, players yet to act can only fold or call.
The maximum raise poker rule is usually waived in heads-up pots.
Once players get to the fifth street, i.e., the fifth card is dealt, the big bet comes into play.
At this point, the upper limit becomes the minimum bet. In the example we used, the minimum bet would become $2, the first raise would be to $4, then to $6, etc.
As already mentioned, the action begins with the strongest hand showing, and if there is a tie here, suits are used to determine who goes first.
There is one more thing to remember about betting in 7 card stud. If a player is showing a pair on the fourth street, although the small bet is in play, they’re allowed to open betting with the big bet.
So, a player showing any pair at this point can start the action by betting $2 instead of $1, and the action continues the same as if a big bet round was in play.
How To Play Poker – 5 Card Draw Poker Rules
5 card draw is another poker variation used to be popular a while ago, but it is hardly played in casinos these days. However, there are still some online poker sites spreading the game, so knowing the 5 card draw poker rules can be very handy.
As the name suggests, 5 card draw is a draw form of the game, so it follows special poker rules as there are no community cards, and the process of dealing cards differs from stud games.
Hand rankings for high games still apply, so the best poker hands a Royal Flush and goes all the way down to a High-Card.
The game is sometimes played with blinds, just like Hold’em, although usually in the pot-limit variation, while sometimes it is played with antes and follows a more stud-like pattern.
- The game begins with all players receiving five cards, all face down.
- Once all players are dealt their cards, the first betting round begins.
- Then players can exchange as many cards as they like from their hands and receive the new ones.
- Another betting round and showdown takes place.
In games with blinds, the action begins with the player seated left to the big blind (under the gun). In the ante games, the first player to receive the cards begins the action. These days, most 5 card draw games are played with big blinds.
The first player to act has the option to fold, call the big blind, or raise. The exact betting structure depends on whether the game is played in a pot-limit or no-limit format.
In the pot-limit version, betting rules are pretty much the same, except that the biggest bet/raise is limited to the size of the pot.
Players base their decision on the five cards they have in their hands and their future potential. Once the first betting round is over, all players have an option to exchange as many cards as they like (between just one and all five) and receive new cards or “stand pat,” indicating they’re happy with their current hand.
The draw's goal is to improve your hand.
- If you have four to a flush, you’ll probably want to take just one card, discarding your non-suited card.
- If you have a pair, you’ll likely want to discard three unpaired cards to try and improve to trips or better, etc.
Once all players have exchanged their cards, the second betting round ensues. Once all bets are done, if there are two or more players still active in the hand, they’ll turn their hands over, and the best hand, according to the standard poker hand rankings for high poker variations, will win the pot.
If two or more players have the same hand, they’ll split the pot equally. Suits do not play a role in determining the best hand, i.e., an Ace-high flush in spades will tie with an identical Ace-high flush in diamonds.
How To Play Poker – Razz Poker Rules
Razz is essentially the low variation of 7 card stud, but make sure to check a detailed article about Razz poker rules and strategies before sitting down to play to avoid costly mistakes.
The game is usually played with the fixed betting format and, just like in 7 card stud, all players put up the ante at the start of the hand. Three initial cards are dealt, two face down and one face up.
One of the differences from 7 card stud is that the action will begin with the player showing the highest card.
On the fourth and all subsequent streets, the first player to act is the one showing the strongest (the lowest) card.
Another huge difference between 7 card stud and Razz is in poker hand rankings.
In Razz, you aim to make the lowest possible five-card hand, and the cards are ranked from an Ace (being the best and the lowest) to a King (being the worst and the highest).
So, the best possible hand you can have in Razz is actually the wheel, i.e., the straight from an Ace to a Five (A, 2, 3, 4, 5).
Straights and flushes don’t count against the player in Razz. However, you do need five cards of distinct value to make the five-card hand. For example:
- 5, 6, 6, 9, 10, 10, K beats
- A A 2 2 3 5 5
This is because the second hand, although it is all low cards, doesn’t have a legitimate combination of five distinct cards. Every complete five-card hand beats any four-card hand.
After the betting is finished on the seventh street, there is a showdown, and the best (the lowest) hand wins the pot. The lowest card in the combination is used to determine the winner, i.e.
- A, 4, 6, 9, J beats 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
If two or more players have the same hand, they will split the pot. Suits do not play any role in determining the winner, and hands of the same strength will always chop.
Even being a different poker game from the rest, Razz poker rules are not hard to learn, so you can learn how to play poker and enjoy this game very fast.
How To Play Poker – 2-7 Triple Draw Poker Rules
There is no doubt that 2-7 Triple Draw poker is one of the most interesting games from the group of draw poker variations.
The rules of this poker game are quite unusual, especially in terms of its hand rankings, which aren’t really found in other poker variations, so this is the most important thing to learn about the game.
Like the name suggests, the best hand in 2-7 triple draw (and other 2-7 variations, for that matter) is the hand that contains 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7. So, it is similar to low forms of poker, but in this case, an Ace counts as the highest card, not the lowest.
Furthermore, flushes and straights do count against the player, so a hand like 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 is actually one of the worst possible hands you can have.
Thus, it is worth memorizing these poker rules when learning how to play poker and before sitting down to play.
Since the hand rankings in 2-7 triple draw are so different, here’s a few examples of hands by their rankings, from the best to the worst:
- 2, 3, 4, 5, 7
- 2, 3, 4, 5, 8
- 3, 4, 6, 7, 8
- 5, 6, 9, 10, J
- 5, 6, 7, 7, A
- 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (straight)
- 2♥, 3♥, 4♥, 5♥, 7♥ (flush)
So, as you can see, the goal is to make the best five-card hand, so having pairs doesn’t help your cause. However, even a paired hand is better than the one containing a straight as the straight hand can only beat another straight or a flush poker hand.
2-7 Triple Draw & Betting
2-7 Triple Draw is usually played with blinds and fixed betting limits, so the setup is similar to that of Limit Texas Hold’em. For example, in a $1/$2 game, blinds would be $0.5/$1.
The action during the first two betting rounds is played using the small bet ($1) as the minimum, while during the second two rounds, the big bet ($2) is used.
- At the start of a hand, each player receives five cards, all face down.
- The action begins with the first player to the left of the dealer, who can opt to fold, call, or raise (making it $1 to go in our example).
- The next player can fold, call, or raise, adding the extra $1, etc.
- Once the betting is completed, all players can discard as many cards as they like (one to five) and get new ones. Of course, the player can also choose to “stand pat,” keeping all of his/her five cards.
- The next betting round then begins with the first active player to the left of the dealer. The small bet is still in play at this point.
- Then, there is a second draw round, followed by another betting round, where the big bet comes into play ($2).
- Finally, there is the third and the last draw, followed by another round of betting with the big bet in play.
At the end of the hand, if there are two or more players still active, they’ll show down their hands, and the best hand, according to the hand ranking rules described above, wins the pot.
To avoid any confusion from these rules of poker game, in the case of qualifying five-card hands, the one with the lowest top card wins the pot, i.e., 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 loses to 3, 4, 5, 7, 8.
How To Play Poker – Short Deck Holdem Poker Rules
Short Deck Hold’em (or 6+ Hold’em) has become quite popular lately, with Macau high rollers creating a huge buzz for the game.
Thanks to this popularity, the game has also started to appear on a number of online poker sites. If you were thinking about giving it a go, here’s the breakdown of Short Deck Hold’em poker rules.
As the name suggests, this is a Hold’em game, so many things remain the same. There are a few differences, however.
- First of all, the betting structure of 6+ Hold’em is usually somewhat different. Instead of the usual big and small blind, all players at the table post an agreed-upon ante at the start of each hand.
- Then, the dealer posts the big blind, so there is just one blind, not two.
- The action begins with the first player to the left of the dealer, and that’s where the differences end as far as the betting is concerned.
Now, moving on to a more important difference.
This variation is played with a “short” deck, meaning that all the cards below six (6) are removed from play (i.e., all 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s).
This leaves only 36 cards in play instead of the usual 52.
Hand rankings are almost identical to those in the standard Hold’em with a couple of exceptions:
- Flushes beat full houses (because flushes are harder to make)
- An Ace acts as a low to make the straight, i.e., A, 6, 7, 8, 9 would be the smallest straight possible
That’s really all you need to know when learning how to play poker variation of Short Deck Hold’em.
Everything else remains the same as in traditional No-Limit Hold’em. The action will always start with the first player to the left of the button, and you can bet and raise as much as you like on any betting round (preflop, flop, turn, and river).
How To Play Poker – Open Face Chinese Poker Rules
Open Face Chinese (OFC) is a form of poker that developed from traditional Chinese poker. It is a specialty game of sorts because it isn’t as much of a poker game as the other ones listed here.
However, it is an entertaining variation, especially for home games. It is also available at some online poker sites, so here’s the basic breakdown of how to play OFC poker and Chinese poker rules.
Open Face Chinese is played using the dealer button, although there are no blinds in play.
For keeping score, the points system is used, and players agree in advance on how much each point is worth.
In OFC, every player is dealt 13 cards by the end of the hand, which means that no more than four players can play the game simultaneously.
The game's goal is to make three distinct qualifying hands in three different rows using the standard poker hand ranking system.
To start with, players are dealt five cards, all face-up, and they need to arrange them in one of the three rows. The bottom and the middle row contain five cards, while the top row contains only three.
Here are the few things to keep in mind when playing Open Face Chinese:
- Once you place a card in a row, you can no longer move it – it is fixed there.
- The bottom row must be the strongest hand of the three.
- The middle row must be stronger than the top but lower than the bottom
So, you need to arrange your first five cards keeping this in mind, i.e., you need to shape your hand in a way where the bottom row will be the best hand, the middle row will be the second-best, etc. After the first round, players are dealt one card at a time each and can choose to place them wherever they like. However, once the card is placed, it can no longer be moved anywhere else on subsequent rounds.
OFC Scoring System
As mentioned, Open Face Chinese poker isn’t played with blinds or antes, so it defers from traditional rules of poker. Instead, it is played using a scoring system.
The goal of the game is to beat your opponent(s) in every row, and every row is separately compared to each other.
Every winning row brings +1 point. Every losing row is -1 point. For example:
- Player A beats players B and C but loses to D in the bottom row: (+1) (+1) (-1) = +1 to his total points for this row
- In this scenario, player D beats all three players in the bottom row, so he scores +3 points for this row
- The same type of comparison is performed for the other two rows as well
In addition to this, OFC also features bonus points for various hands in different rows. For example, a royal flush in the bottom row gives +25 points, while the royal flush in the middle row (provided the hand doesn’t break the rules) brings +50 points.
|Bottom Hand||Middle Hand|
|Trips||0 points||2 points|
|Straight||2 points||4 points|
|Flush||4 points||8 points|
|Full House||6 points||12 points|
|Four of a Kind||10 points||20 points|
|Straight Flush||15 points||30 points|
|Royal Flush||25 points||50 points|
|6s||1 points||14 points|
|7s||2 points||15 points|
|8s||3 points||16 points|
|9s||4 points||17 points|
|Ts||5 points||18 points|
|Js||6 points||19 points|
|Qs||7 points||20 points|
|Ks||8 points||21 points|
|As||9 points||22 points|
Fouling a hand & Fantasy Land
We’ve mentioned strict Chinese poker rules about the hand strength by the rows, i.e. the bottom one being the strongest, the middle one being the second-best, etc. These aren’t suggestions in Open Face Chinese. If you complete a hand where these rules aren’t followed, so, for example, your middle row beats the bottom row, you have fouled the hand and lose across all rows by default as long as your opponent(s) don’t foul as well.
The Fantasy Land is a special rule in OFC. If you make a qualifying hand where your top-row hand is a pair of Queens or better, on the next round, you’ll be in the Fantasy Land. What this means is that you’ll get all 13 cards at once, so you’ll have the full information available to distribute your cards in all three rows, which is a huge advantage in this game.
How To Play Dealer’s Choice Poker – Rules And Tips
Dealer’s choice poker isn’t a particular variation of the game. Instead, it is a format in which the player on the dealer button chooses the game to be played next.
Sometimes, games are changed every hand while sometimes there is a full round of play with one format, and then the next player on the dealer gets to pick his or her game.
Although dealer’s choice poker is more commonly found in home games, some local poker rooms are spreading these games, and you’ll even find some dealer’s choice tournaments.
In casinos, there is usually a list of games that can be picked, while home games can be a bit on the wild side, where players can come up with pretty much any poker variation they feel like playing.
The only thing to keep in mind about dealers' choice games is that poker rules need to be fair.
This means that all the players need to have a shot at picking the game they feel the most comfortable with.
To start with, the first player to act as a dealer can be determined using the traditional high card method. From there, the button moves clockwise, as always.
Other than this, every game in the mix is played according to its own poker rules. You can use dealer’s choice games when learning how to play poker and as a place to practice all the different variations of games, you’re not as familiar with and hone your skills.
If you are not sure how any of the poker games are played or want to dive into advanced strategies, you should check the best poker training sites to speed up your progress.