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Rules Of Poker

The basic rules of poker for home games, online poker, or casino poker.

Poker Rules

Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 cards. In home games, there may be Jokers added, as “wild” cards designated to take on any suit and rank you like during the game, but these are generally not used in online poker games. Also in home games, other regular cards may be designated wild for that game, and the player holding that card may call it any rank or suit he decides, to better his hand. Poker rules, you can see, can vary tremendously with every game and every group of people playing! The cards come in four different suits — Clubs, Spades, Diamonds, Hearts — and no suit is ranked higher than any other. The cards from highest rank to lowest, are: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. The Ace may also be considered the lowest card in the deck, when used in a hand that way. (More on that when poker hands are explained.)

Poker play consists of players betting in successive rounds into a common pot, and discarding & replacing some of their cards to improve their hands. Probably the best-known home game is 5-card draw, in which each player is dealt 5 cards face-down. (Only he may see his hand.) Most online poker games also use a hand of 5 cards, but in the most popular game variations, they might not all be dealt to the individual player; sometimes there are community or shared cards dealt face-up in the center of the table and all players may use them to make up their hands. The games Texas Hold’em and Omaha use community cards.

The poker game begins with a bet from the person immediately to the left of the dealer, and betting continues clockwise around the table. The first person’s bet is called the Blind Bet since he’s doing it before even seeing his cards. He may say “Check,” which is betting zero, and essentially passes the action to the next person. That person may also say Check if he wishes, and so may the next until there is actually a bet on the table.
On the second round of betting, each player may choose to discard up to 3 cards, and the dealer then gives him that many new cards.
Poker rules say once there’s been a bet made, the next person must Call, Raise, or Fold.

To Call means you’re meeting that previous bet, so you place an equal amount of money in the pot. And you get to stay in the hand.

To Raise means you are meeting that previous bet and bettering it. First you place an amount of money equal to the previous bet, then you add in the amount you’re raising it by. In friendly games, this may be equal to the original bet. So if the bet was a dollar, you’d put in $2.And you — of course — get to stay in the game.

To Fold means you’re dropping out because you don’t think your hand can win. If you already placed an ante in the pot earlier, you lose that money. You’re out of the hand, and the others go on.

Sometimes, especially in home poker rules, there is a set number of betting rounds. Otherwise, play generally goes on until players stop challenging each other by Raising the bet. Once bets are equal and not going any higher, players reveal their hands. Highest hand wins.

The consistent thing in poker rules is the value of the different hands. Here are the ranks of the different possible hands, starting with the highest.

1.  Five of a Kind:  This, obviously, is only possible when it’s a game involving wild cards, and a wild card has been used to represent another of what the player had four of. Not a hand you’ll see talked about much in online poker rules.

2.  Royal Flush:  This hand is a Straight (five cards in succession, like 2-3-4-5-6) AND a Flush (all cards of the same suit) which has an Ace high, meaning its highest card is the Ace, and includes King, Queen, Jack, 10. It is the highest Straight Flush possible.

3.  Straight Flush:  Five cards in order, all of the same suit. There is one kind not permitted; and that is using the Ace in the middle of a straight. An Ace must either be the high or low card of a Straight; not, for instance, Q-K-A-2-3. This is called an “around-the-corner” or “wraparound” Straight and is not allowed.

4.  Four of a Kind:  A hand including Four cards of the same rank, like four Jacks. If two players in a game each had Four of a Kind, the higher four wins. That is, if one had four Jacks and one had four Sixes, the Jacks win.

5.  Full House:  A hand consisting of a pair and three of a kind. If two players had Full Houses, the player who had the higher three of a kind wins. That is, if one has J-J-J-3-3 and one has 2-2-K-K-K, the one with the 3 Kings wins.

6.  Flush:  A poker hand in which all cards are of the same suit, either all Diamonds, all Hearts, etc. If two players had Flushes, the one with the highest card in his hand wins.

7.  Straight:  A hand of five cards that may be of different suits but running in ranking order, such as 4-5-6-7-8. You may use the Ace as a low card and begin a Straight with it, but a
gain, no “wraparound” Straights permitted, as explained in rule 3.

8.  Three of a Kind:   A hand including Three cards of the same rank, as in K-K-K-4-7. If a second player has Three of a Kind, the higher ranking set of three cards wins.

9.  Two Pair:  A hand including two cards of the same rank, and two cards of another rank, such as 6-6-2-10-10. If another player had Two Pair, the one with the highest ranking pair wins.

10.  Pair:  A hand including two cards of the same rank, as in 8-8-K-2-Q. If a pair is the best hand, and more than one player has a pair, the highest rank pair wins; if two players have the same pair, such as 3-3-K-7-4, and 3-3-8-A-6, the one with the highest other card besides the pair wins. In this example, the one with the Ace in his hand wins.

11.  High Card:  When no one has a pair or any other better hand, the one with the highest card wins. If more than one has that high card, then the second highest wins. Or third highest, if more than one player has the same two highest cards.

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  • Quick Counts, Part 1

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  • Texas Hold’em Poker Strategy

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  • Caribbean Poker: Lesson 1 – The Table Basics

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  • Have A Plan

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  • Big Hands and Big Payoffs

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