Rules of Poker

 

There are dozens of variants of the game of Poker but they can be divided into 2 main types - Stud Poker and Draw Poker. In Stud Poker, opponents don't see any of a player's cards until the showdown. In Draw Poker, some of a player's cards are known to the opponent's at the finale. The rules on this page are designed to give the basic rules for 3 types of Poker:

  • Basic Draw Poker
  • Basic 5 Card Stud Poker
  • Texas Hold'em Poker, the most popular kind of Poker in the world at the moment.

Since all Poker games have certain things in common, first we give the rules that apply to all types of Poker

 

Rules applicable to all Poker Games

Poker Equipment

Originally Poker was played with a standard 36 card Piquet deck of playing cards. Most games these days are played with a standard 52 card deck. The Ace ranks high except that it can also be used low in a "straight" or run of cards i.e. Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Some kind of tokens to bet with are required and conventionally these are round chips - sets of Poker chips are easily obtainable these days and vary from very cheap to extremely high quality sets of great value. A dealer chip called a "blind" is also usually used to indicate the current dealer (or at Casino tables, to indicate who plays first).

 

Poker Objective

Poker is totally a gambling game and unlike some other gambling games cannot really be played without stakes. The stakes do not need to be money - peanuts, sweets or matchsticks will work fine, although seasoned gamblers will sneer at anything other than serious stakes.

The aim for a hand is to win by having the highest ranked hand of cards or else by continuing to bet that your hand is the highest until all the other players drop out. The player who is left when all the others have dropped out or the player who has the highest ranked hand when the hands are shown wins the "pot" - all the money that has been bet during that hand.

In the event of a draw, the pot is divided equally amongst players.

 

Poker Scoring Hands

There are nine ranking Poker hands. We list them below in ascending order:

Ranks of Hand Description If 2 hands show the same rank
One Pair 2 cards of the same value The hand with the higher value pair wins. If they are the same, then the highest value card in the remaining 3 cards determines who wins. If they are also the same, the highest value card in the remaining 2 cards determines who wins and so on.
Two Pairs 2 different value pairs The hand with the highest value pair wins. If they are the same, then the value of the second pair determines who wins. If they are also the same, then the value of the remaining card determines who wins.
Three of a kind 3 cards of the same value The hand with the higher matching 3 cards wins.
The Straight A run of 5 cards, regardless of suit The Straight that starts with the highest value card wins.
The Flush 5 cards of the same suit The hand with the highest value card wins or if the highest cards are the same, the value of the second highest cards determines the winner and so on.
The Full House 3 cards of the same value and 2 cards of the same different value The hand with the higher matching 3 cards wins.
Four of a kind 4 cards of the same value The hand with the higher matching 4 cards wins.
The Straight Flush A run of 5 cards of the same suit The Straight Flush that starts with the highest value card wins.
The Royal Flush A run of 5 cards of the same suit starting with a ten. N/A

If a hand contains none of the ranking combinations above, then the highest card gives the value of the hand. E.g. "Ace High".

 

General Poker Rules

The dealer changes to the left each hand. The person to the right of the dealer cuts the cards after they are shuffled.

Ideally Poker is played with 5, 6 or 7 players. Bets are placed in front of the player.

If at any point during the betting phases, all but one player "fold" and drop out, then that player is the winner of the round and takes the pot/all bets. Crucially, in this case, the winning player's hand is not revealed so that the other players do not know if the player was bluffing or not.

 

 

Poker Stakes

The stakes played for in any Poker game are agreed at the beginning and vary widely. The following rules do not give any guidelines for the stakes but there are some common conventions regarding raising the stake.

General Poker Betting Limitation Strategies

In a completely theoretical game, the stake might be doubled each time and usually the house rules permit this for a short number of raises. However, after the stake has doubled 3 or 4 times, it tends to be so large that doubling it further means many of the players will be forced out due to a lack of funds rather than anything to do with their hand. So a historical way of avoiding this problem has been to say that after the stake has been raised 3 or 4 times, thereafter it is only allowed to raise it by the amount it was previously raised by.

So for instance, the ante or first blind forced bet might be 1 chip, the straddle (or second blind or Big Blind) forced second bet is usually double - in our example 2 chips. The first raise would then be 4 chips, the second raise 8 chips but thereafter each raise would be 8 chips.

Texas Hold'em Betting Limitation Strategies

There are a multitude of other betting regimes and limitations which can be confusing. To give some topical examples, following are the 2 main betting rules from the currently most popular variety of Poker - Texas Hold'em:

Limit Hold'em

  • Second forced bet (big blind) must be double the first forced bet (small blind).
  • Raises in the first two rounds of betting must equal the big blind
  • Raises in the last 2 rounds of betting must be double the big blind

No Limit Hold'em - Second forced bet (big blind) must be double the first forced bet (small blind). A Raise may be of any amount limited by the following constraints:

  • It must be the same or greater than the big blind
  • It must be the same or greater than the previous raise
  • It must be the same or less than the number of chips the player has already bet.

 

 

Basic Draw Poker

Preliminaries

The player to the dealer's left bets a starting amount by putting down some chips. This is called "the Ante". The next players puts down a further initial bet - traditionally, double the ante. This is called "the Straddle". The value of the stake traditionally starts at 4 X the ante but this may vary according to the house rules.

Each player is dealt 5 cards.

First Round of Betting

The player to the left of the player who bet the Second Blind starts the first round of betting. Each player in succession can do one of 3 things:

  • "Fold" - Throw in their cards and take no further part in the hand
  • "Call" - Increase the bet in front of them to match the level of the player who last raised it.
  • "Raise" - in addition to calling, a player may also raise the stake by adding more to the bet in front of him.

After a player raises, if all the subsequent players either fold or call but do not raise the stake further, then no further raises may be made. At this point, some of the players may have dropped out and the remaining players will all have the current value of the stake in front of them.

The Draw

Each player in turn, then requests to discard 1, 2 or 3 cards in exchange for replacement cards from the deck, if they wish - the objective being to improve the rank of the hand.

Second Round of Betting

The betting process then restarts with the first player to the dealer's left who has not yet folded. In the second round of betting, until someone Raises, players may:

  • "Fold" - Throw in their cards and take no further part in the hand
  • "Check" - Stay in the game at the current stake level
  • "Raise" - a player raises the stake by adding more to the bet in front of him

If all players check, then play proceeds straight to the Showdown. Otherwise, as soon as someone raises the stake, subsequent players can only Fold, Call or Raise. Betting ceases when, after a raise, all subsequent players either Call or Fold.

The Showdown

Once betting for the second round has ceased, if only one player remains in the game, that player wins the pot. The player's hand is not revealed to the other players. This means that if the player had been bluffing - pretending that his hand was highly ranked when it was not, then no-one will be any the wiser.

Otherwise, all players reveal their hands and the highest ranked hand wins the pot.

 

 

 

Basic Five-Card Stud Poker

Preliminaries

All players contribute an agreed starting stake to the pot. Each player is one card face down (called the "hole" card) and one card face up.

First Round

The player with the lowest value card showing must starts the betting. If there are two or more players with the same value, whichever of these players closest to the dealer's left starts. Each player in succession can do one of 3 things:

  • "Fold" - Throw in their cards and take no further part in the hand
  • "Call" - Increase the bet in front of them to match the level of the player who last raised it.
  • "Raise" - in addition to calling, a player may also raise the stake by adding more to the bet in front of him.

After a player raises, if all the subsequent players either fold or call but do not raise the stake further, then no further raises may be made until the next card is dealt.

Subsequent Rounds

Another card is then dealt face-up to each player. The betting process then restarts with the first player to the dealer's left who has not yet folded. In the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds of betting, until someone Raises, players may:

  • "Fold" - Throw in their cards and take no further part in the hand
  • "Check" - Stay in the game at the current stake level
  • "Raise" - a player raises the stake by adding more to the bet in front of him

If all players check, then play proceeds straight to next round. Otherwise, as soon as someone raises the stake, subsequent players can only Fold, Call or Raise. Betting ceases when, after a raise, all subsequent players either Call or Fold.

After the fifth card has been dealt and the final round of betting is completed, the Showdown occurs.

The Showdown

If only one player remains in the game, that player wins the pot. The player's hole card is not revealed to the other players. This means that if the player had been bluffing - pretending that his hand was highly ranked when it was not, then no-one will be any the wiser.

Otherwise, all players reveal their hands and the highest ranked hand wins the pot and all bets.

 

 

 

Texas Hold'em Poker Rules

Texas Hold'em is a version of Draw Poker that has become the most fashionable version of Poker played towards the latter half of the first decade of the 21st century. It is the Poker game most commonly played in Casinos and is also the game regularly featured in the World Poker series tournament and other televised Poker games - which accounts for its popularity.

Preliminaries

The player to the dealer's left bets a starting amount by putting down some chips. This is called "First Blind". The next players puts down some chips too - this is called the "Second blind" and is normally equal to double the first blind. The second blind also usually is the value of the minimum bet.

First Round

Each player is dealt 2 cards, face down. These are called "The Hole Cards"

The player to the left of the player who bet the Second Blind starts the first round of betting. Each player in succession can do one of 3 things:

  • "Fold" - Throw in their cards and take no further part in the hand
  • "Call" - Increase the bet in front of them to match the level of the player who last raised it.
  • "Raise" - in addition to calling, a player may also raise the stake by adding more to the bet in front of him.

After a player raises, if all the subsequent players either fold or call but do not raise the stake further, then no further raises may be made and play proceeds to the second round.

Second (The Flop), Third (The Turn) & Fourth (The River) Rounds

The second, third and fourth rounds are played in a similar way. First, the top card of the deck is discarded - an anti-cheating ritual called "Burning the card". Then:

  • In the second round, three "community cards" are dealt face-up in the middle of the table. These cards are called "The Flop" and the round is usually called "The Flop" round.
  • In the third round called "The Turn", a fourth community card is dealt to join those already on the table. This card is called "Fourth Street".
  • In the fifth round, "The River", the final community card dealt. This card is called "Fifth Street".

The community cards are used by all the players in conjunction with their two hidden "hole" cards to form their hand and from these cards, the players choose the five that give them the highest ranked Poker hand.

The betting process then restarts with the first player to the dealer's left who has not yet folded. In the second, third and fourth rounds of betting, until someone Raises, players may:

  • "Fold" - Throw in their cards and take no further part in the hand
  • "Check" - Stay in the game at the current stake level
  • "Raise" - a player raises the stake by adding more to the bet in front of him

If all players Check, then play proceeds straight to next round. Otherwise, as soon as someone raises the stake, subsequent players can only Fold, Call or Raise. Betting ceases when, after a raise, all the other remaining players either Call or Fold.

After the fifth card has been dealt and the final round of betting is completed, the Showdown occurs.

The Showdown

If at any point during any of the betting rounds, only one player remains in the game, that player wins the pot. The player's hole cards are not revealed to the other players. This means that if the player had been bluffing - pretending that his hand was highly ranked when it was not, then no-one will be any the wiser.

Otherwise, all players reveal their hands and the highest ranked hand wins the pot and all bets.

 

 

 

 


These rules are provided by Masters Traditional Games, an Internet shop selling quality traditional games, pub games and unusual games. For information on copying and copyright, see our disclaimer.

Our rules are comprehensive instructions for friendly play. If in doubt, always abide by locally-played or house rules.

Copyright Masters Games 2012. All rights reserved.

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