Rules of Poker

Texas Holdem

Texas Holdem is the king of poker, the game that is always on TV, and the game that has been experiencing a population boom of unprecedented proportions. If you’re not entirely sure how Texas Holdem is played, this article will help you learn the basics.

A hand of Texas Holdem typically starts with a bunch of unique characters wearing sunglasses and baseball caps sitting around the poker table or at their computers. There is a chip known as the button which rotates around the table, sitting in front of a different player each hand.

Steps in a Hand of Texas Holdem

  1. The player to the left of the button places a bet known as the small blind, the player to the left of the small blind places a bet known as the big blind.
  2. Two cards are dealt facedown to each player, beginning with the player who posted the small blind and moving to the left, one card is dealt at a time until all players are holding two cards each.
  3. A round of betting occurs, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind. This is known as the under-the-gun position. Betting proceeds to the left.
  4. The dealer sets the card on the top of the deck aside, this is known as the Burn Card. The dealer than deals three cards face up on the table. This is known as the Flop.
  5. Another round of betting ensues, beginning with the player to the left of the button.
  6. The dealer burns one card and deals a fourth card faceup. This card is known as the Turn.
  7. Another round of betting begins with the player to the left of the button.
  8. The dealer burns one card and deals the fifth and final card face up. This card is known as the River.
  9. The last round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the button.
  10. Everyone who is still in the hand after the last round of betting shows their hands, beginning with the player who made the last bet or raise. This is known as the Showdown. The player with the best hand wins the pot. If there is a tie the pot is split.

These are the basics of Texas Holdem. Of course, you’ll probably want to know a bit more about the hand rankings and strategies before you start playing. We have both hand rankings and strategy articles so take a look at those if you are interested in joining in the Texas Holdem craze.

Omaha

Omaha is a poker game that is very similar to the popular Texas Holdem. The main difference is the most visible one, every player is dealt four cards instead of two. One other big difference is that while players have four cards, they must use two cards in conjunction with three of the community cards to form their poker hand. Each step in a hand of Omaha are outlined below.

Steps in a hand of Omaha

  1. The player to the left of the button places a bet known as the small blind. The button is the small disc that rotates around the table and sits in front of a different player each hand. The player to the left of the small blind places a bet known as the big blind, which is typically twice the size of the small blind, but not always.
  2. Cards are dealt around the table one at a time, beginning with the player to the left of the button. Dealing continues until each player has four cards. These are known as the hole cards.
  3. The first round of betting begins with the player sitting to the left of the big blind and continues around the table to the left.
  4. Once the first round of betting is complete, the dealer sets aside the top card from the deck. This is the burn card. The dealer that places three cards face up in the center of the table. This is the flop and is the first three community cards, which all players can use to form their hands.
  5. A second round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the button.
  6. The dealer burns one card and deals one card face up. This is the turn and is the fourth of the five community cards.
  7. Another round of betting beginning with the player to the left of the button.
  8. The dealer burns one card and deals one card face up. This is the river and is the last community card.
  9. The final round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the button.
  10. Any players remaining in the hand show their cards, forming the best five card poker hand out of two of their hole cards and three of the community cards. The player with the best hand wins the pot. This is the showdown.

Omaha Hi/Lo

There is another version of Omaha known as Omaha Hi/Lo or Omaha Eights or Better. In this version of Omaha there are two different pots, the hi pot and the lo pot. The player with the highest hand wins the hi pot. Players must have a qualifying hand to win the low pot, and a qualifying hand is any hand that has five cards with a value of 8 or lower with no repeated values, meaning that there are no pairs, trips, or quads. The lowest qualifying hand wins the lo pot, and if there are no qualifying hands the player with the highest hand wins the entire pot. The best low hand is A,2,3,4,5. and the second best low hand is A,2,3,4,6. The best way to figure out which hand is better is to look at the numbers backwards. That means that the hands I mentioned would be 5,4,3,2,A and 6,4,3,2,A. The lower number is always better so 5,4,3,2,A is better than 6,4,3,2,A. If the first numbers are the same, then you move on to the next number, so 6,4,3,2,A is better than 6,5,3,2,A.

You are now equipped with the knowledge to play Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo, but the best way to learn is by doing, so if Omaha interests you than go out and play it.

Seven Card Stud

Seven Card Stud is a popular poker game that is quite different from Texas Holdem and Omaha. In Seven Card Stud there are no community cards and some cards are hidden while others are exposed for the other players to see. This makes the game a mental challenge to try and remember which cards have been seen so that more accurate odds can be estimated. But we’re not going into that here. Instead, this article is about the general rules for Seven Card Stud and how to play the game, not how to play the game well.

Seven Card Stud Hand

  1. Everyone places an ante, which is a bet of a predetermined amount.
  2. Three cards are dealt to each player, the first two facedown and the third card face up. The face up card is sometimes known as the door card.
  3. The player with the lowest exposed card must start the first round of betting by making a bring-in bet. If two or more players tie for lowest up card, than the suit determines who makes the bet with the following order: clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades.
  4. The first round of betting continues until complete.
  5. The dealer delivers the fourth card to each player face up. This card is known as Fourth Street.
  6. A round of betting ensues with the player having the highest exposed hand betting first. If there is a pair showing, the player with the pair may have the option to make a double bet.
  7. Everyone receives their fifth card face up. This is Fifth Street.
  8. Round of betting occurs beginning with the player who has the highest exposed hand. The betting requirement doubles on Fifth Street, so if the betting requirement was $2 on Fourth Street it is now $4.
  9. The sixth card, known as Sixth Street, is dealt face up.
  10. Another round of betting.
  11. The seventh and final card is dealt facedown. This card can be known as either Seventh Street or the River.
  12. The last round of betting takes place.
  13. Everyone still in the hand shows their cards and the best hand wins the pot. This is the Showdown.

Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo

There is another version of Seven Card Stud known either as Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo or Seven Card Stud 8s or Better. In Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo the pot is split when there is a qualifying low hand and the best high hand wins the high pot and the best low hand wins the low pot. If there is no qualifying low hand the high hand wins the entire pot. A hand qualifies as a low hand if it has five cards with unique values of 8 or lower. So a hand of A,3,4,5,8 is a low hand while a hand of A,3,4,4,7 is not because two of the cards have the same value. Straights are not considered when forming the low hand so the best low hand possible is A,2,3,4,5. When comparing two low hands it is easiest to arrange the cards from highest to lowest, so A,2,3,4,5 becomes 5,4,3,2,A and A,3,4,5,8 becomes 8,5,4,3,A. You compare the two hands beginning with the highest card. In this case, because 5 is lower than 8 the hand of 5,4,3,2,A is better. If the two hands have high cards with the same value you move on to the next highest card in each hand and compare again.

HORSE

HORSE has become a popular game lately, mostly due to the fact that you must be a skilled player in order to get deep into a HORSE tournament. Professional poker players like HORSE for this reason, as their skills do benefit them more than they do in a game like Holdem where any amateur thinks he can win and causes damage with bad plays.

What is HORSE?

HORSE is a poker game that is actually a combination of poker games. HORSE is an acronym standing for Holdem, Omaha, Razz, Seven card stud, and seven card stud Eights or better. This game is designed to reward players who are skilled in all of the games, for any player who is good in only one or two of the games will have a difficult time.

Because HORSE is a game where players must have a lot of skill to win, professional players like it a lot, and because of this HORSE games have been added to the World Series of Poker lineup in recent years, including a $50,000 buy-in tournament which keeps a lot of amateurs out. This is probably the most elite event at the WSOP, even if it doesn’t have the prestige of the Main Event.

HORSE Rotation

A game of HORSE starts with Texas Holdem. Each individual game within HORSE lasts a specific amount of time, usually a blind level or one rotation of the button around the table. After Holdem the game changes to Omaha, then Razz, and so on, following the letters of HORSE.

Deuce to Seven Triple Draw

Deuce to Seven Triple Draw is a game in which players try to make the worst possible poker hands. Aces are high in this game and straights and flushes count as high hands, so the best possible hand in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw is 23457 with no flush. As the name implies, players get three draws to try and improve their hand.

Deuce to Seven Triple Draw Hand

  1. The player to the left of the button, which is a small disc that rotates around the table to show who is acting as the dealer, posts a forced bet known as the small blind, the player to the left of the small blind posts a forced bet known as the big blind.
  2. Each player receives five cards for their hand. Dealing begins with the player to the left of the button and continues around the table until everyone has five cards.
  3. The first round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind.
  4. Players may discard any number of cards, from 0 to 5. The player to the left of the button is the first player to discard and receive new cards. If a player chooses to keep all of their cards they must stand pat for the rest of the hand. If there are not enough cards to complete the draw, the discarded cards are shuffled to form a new deck.
  5. The second round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the button.
  6. Draw #2
  7. Another round of betting
  8. Draw #3
  9. Last round of betting.
  10. All players remaining show their hands, and the player with the best hand, which is the worst 5 card poker hand, wins the pot.

Deuce to Seven Triple Draw Hand Rankings

The hand rankings can get somewhat confusing in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw, but there is an easy way to distinguish the winning hand. Place the hands in order from highest card to lowest card, so a hand of 23568 is 86532 and a hand of 23468 is 86432. Then compare the highest cards. In this case they are the same with an 8, so we move on to the next highest cards. They’re the same at a 6, so we move on. Here we have a 5 and a 4. Because the 4 is lower than the 5, the hand of 86432 is the winning hand. Also remember that aces are always high and that you want to avoid straights and flushes.

Five Card Draw

Five Card Draw is the first poker game that a lot of people learn when they get their hands on a deck of cards. It is the game seen in the movie Maverick, and it is also one of the easiest to learn thanks to its simple nature. We’ve provided this rule guide for those of you who haven’t yet learned the rules to this fun poker game.

Step by Step Guide through a Hand of Five Card Draw

  1. Players post the ante, which can be considered the price a player must pay to see the cards.
  2. Five cards are dealt facedown to each player, beginning with the player to the dealer’s left, or with the player to the left of the button, which is a disc used to signify where the dealer position is in a game with a full-time dealer.
  3. Players look at their cards and the first round of betting begins with the player to the left of the dealer or the button.
  4. The players are given the option to discard from 1 to 3 cards and draw new ones. Players who hold an ace can discard 4 cards but usually have to show the ace. Players can also choose to stand pat and not draw any cards.
  5. A second round of betting takes place after all discards are made and new cards are drawn. This round of betting also begins with the player to the left of the dealer or button.
  6. Players show their cards and the player with the best hand wins. This is the showdown.

Five Card Stud

Five Card Stud is a poker game that is rare to see today, despite having been around for a very long time. Five Card Stud has more in common with Seven Card Stud and not Five Card Draw, as some people suspect. In Five Card Stud the first card is dealt facedown while the last four are dealt face up, making the game similar to Seven Card Stud which also has down and up cards.

There are variations of Five Card Stud in which two cards are dealt facedown to encourage betting. In some of these the first two cards are dealt facedown, while in another variation the first and final cards are dealt facedown.

Due to there only being five cards with no options to draw, the winning hands are frequently very low. It isn’t uncommon to see high card hands win the pot.

Step by Step Guide for Five Card Stud

  1. Players make their Ante bets, which is the price to see the cards.
  2. Each player receives two cards, the first dealt facedown and the second dealt face up. The player who has the lowest exposed card must Bring-in a forced bet of half the minimum bet. Betting then proceeds to the left.
  3. The third card is dealt face up to each player. This is known as Third Street.
  4. A round of betting ensues, beginning with the player who has the highest exposed hand.
  5. The fourth card, or Fourth Street, is dealt face up.
  6. Another round of betting.
  7. The fifth card, or Fifth Street, is dealt face up.
  8. Final Round of betting.
  9. Players reveal their hole cards. The player with the highest hand wins the pot. This is the Showdown.

Pineapple Poker

Pineapple Poker is a poker game that is very similar to Texas Holdem, in fact, the game plays exactly like Texas Holdem, but with one difference. The difference is that players receive three cards instead of two and immediately discard one of the cards. There is another poker game known as Crazy Pineapple Poker where the players discard a card at a different point in the hand.

Pineapple Poker Step by Step Guide

  1. The player to the left of the Button, which is the disc that rotates around the table to mark the dealer spot, posts a forced bet known as the Small Blind. The player to the left of the small blind posts a forced bet known as the Big Blind.
  2. Three cards are dealt facedown to each player. The players look at their cards and discard one of the three cards in their hand.
  3. A round of betting occurs, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind.
  4. The dealer sets the card at the top of the deck aside, this is known as Burning a Card. The dealer than places three cards face up in the center of the table. These are the first three community cards, which are known as the Flop.
  5. A round of betting ensues, and in this and all future betting rounds, the betting begins with the player to the left of the button.
  6. The dealer burns a card and deals the fourth community card, known as the Turn.
  7. Third round of betting.
  8. The dealer burns a card and deals the fifth community card, known as the River.
  9. Final round of betting.
  10. Any players remaining in the hand show their cards, and the player with the best hand wins. This is the Showdown.

Crazy Pineapple Poker

Crazy Pineapple Poker is very similar to Texas Holdem, but has a very big difference: players are dealt three cards instead of two and each player must discard one of their cards after the flop. There is another form of this game, known simply as Pineapple Poker, where players discard a card as soon as they look at their hand.

Crazy Pineapple Poker Step by Step Guide

  1. The player to the left of the Button, which is the disc that rotates around the table to mark the dealer spot, posts a forced bet known as the Small Blind. The player to the left of the small blind posts a forced bet known as the Big Blind.
  2. Three cards are dealt facedown to each player.
  3. A round of betting occurs, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind.
  4. The dealer sets the card at the top of the deck aside, this is known as Burning a Card. The dealer than places three cards face up in the center of the table. These are the first three community cards, which are known as the Flop.
  5. A round of betting ensues, and in this and all future betting rounds, the betting begins with the player to the left of the button.
  6. After the round of betting, players must discard one of their three cards.
  7. The dealer burns a card and deals the fourth community card, known as the Turn.
  8. Third round of betting.
  9. The dealer burns a card and deals the fifth community card, known as the River.
  10. Final round of betting.
  11. Any players remaining in the hand show their cards, and the player with the best hand wins. This is the Showdown.

Tahoe Poker

Tahoe Poker is a rare and not very well-known variation of Texas Holdem. In Tahoe Poker each player receives three cards, just like in Pineapple and Crazy Pineapple Poker. However, in Tahoe Poker the players will keep all three card throughout the entire hand and may use, zero, one, or two of their hole cards to form their five card poker hand. Players may not use all three cards.

Step by Step Guide for Tahoe Poker

  1. The player to the left of the Button, which is the disc that rotates around the table to mark the dealer spot, posts a forced bet known as the Small Blind. The player to the left of the small blind posts a forced bet known as the Big Blind.
  2. Three cards are dealt facedown to each player.
  3. A round of betting occurs, beginning with the player to the left of the big blind.
  4. The dealer sets the card at the top of the deck aside, this is known as Burning a Card. The dealer than places three cards face up in the center of the table. These are the first three community cards, which are known as the Flop.
  5. A round of betting ensues, and in this and all future betting rounds, the betting begins with the player to the left of the button.
  6. The dealer burns a card and deals the fourth community card, known as the Turn.
  7. Third round of betting.
  8. The dealer burns a card and deals the fifth community card, known as the River.
  9. Final round of betting.
  10. Any players remaining in the hand show their cards, and the player with the best hand wins. Remember that players may only use zero, one, or two of their hole cards in conjunction with the community cards to form their hand. This is the Showdown.

Chicago Poker

Chicago Poker is exactly like Seven Card Stud, but with one difference. In Chicago Poker the player with the highest spade in his hole cards, which are a player’s hidden cards, will take half of the pot and the player with the highest hand will take the other half. That is the only difference between the two games. There is also another variation known as San Francisco Poker, which is the same as Chicago except that it is the highest heart among the hole cards, not the highest spade, that takes half of the pot.

Step by Step Guide for Chicago Poker

  1. Players must pay their Ante, which is simply the price of seeing the cards.
  2. Players are dealt three cards, the first two facedown and the third card face up.
  3. The player with the lowest face up card, also known as the Door Card, must make a Bring-In bet. Betting then proceeds to the left.
  4. The fourth card is dealt face up. This is known as Fourth Street.
  5. A round of betting occurs, beginning with the player who has the highest hand in their exposed cards.
  6. The fifth card is dealt face up. This is known as Fifth Street.
  7. Another round of betting, but the betting limits are doubled at this point.
  8. The sixth card, or Sixth Street, is dealt face up.
  9. Another round of betting.
  10. The seventh card, known as Seventh Street or The River, is dealt facedown to each player.
  11. Final round of betting.
  12. Players reveal their hands. The player with the highest hand takes half of the pot, the player with the highest spade in their hole cards wins the other half of the pot.

Poker Hand Rankings

While there are many different poker games, they all have the same poker hands and rank them in the same way, except for some games that reward bad hands, such as razz. If you are new to poker and aren’t familiar with how hands are ranked, this poker hand ranking guide will help you learn some poker basics.

A lot of poker rooms offer bad beat jackpots where if you have a very strong hand, say a straight flush, and someone beats you with a royal flush, you would win the bad beat jackpot for having an almost unbeatable hand defeated. The situation I described could easily happen in Texas Holdem if you had a nine of clubs and your opponent had the ace of clubs, with the 10, J, Q, K of clubs on the board. There are also high hand jackpots where the player who had the highest hand that day is awarded a cash prize.

Below are all the hands you will see in poker, ranked from strongest to weakest.

Royal Flush

The royal flush is the strongest hand in poker. It consists of an ace, king, queen, jack, and ten of the same suit. Another way to think of the royal flush is that it is the highest possible straight flush.

Straight Flush

The straight flush is a hand that can be beaten only by a royal flush or a higher straight flush. The straight flush consists of five consecutive cards all of the same suit. For instance, a hand of the 3 of hearts, the 4 of hearts, the 5 of hearts, the 6 of hearts, and the 7 of hearts is a straight flush. The strength of a straight flush is determined by its highest card, so a straight flush whose highest card is a 7 could be beaten by a straight flush whose highest card is 8.

Four of a Kind

A four of a kind is a hand where a player holds all four card of a specific value, such as holding all four 8s in the deck.

Full House

A full house is a hand where you hold three cards of one value and two cards of another value. Three kings and two 10s is a full house.

Flush

A flush is a hand where all five cards are of the same suit, but not connected in a straight, which would be a straight flush.

Straight

A straight is a hand with five cards of consecutive values, such as 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. The straight is weaker than a flush. I mention this only because that is the most common mistake in assessing hand rankings.

Three of a Kind

Holding three cards of the same value is a three of a kind; for example, holding three 7s is a three of a kind.

Two Pair

A hand where you hold two cards of one value and two cards of another is two pair. One example of this is holding two 10s and two 9s.

One Pair

Holding a single pair is known as one pair. Pairs of higher value defeat pairs of lesser value.

High Card

If a hand is not any of the above, it is a high card hand. All five cards have different values, are not connected in a straight, and do not form a flush. The highest card determines the strength of a hand. The worst possible hand is 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, although in a game like razz or deuce-seven triple draw this is a great hand.

Those are the poker hand rankings. Now that you know these you have taken your first step towards becoming a poker player.


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