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Poker About Poker
Poker Poker Poker Poker Poker


Poker rules and how to play
Omaha, Hold'em and Let it Ride are variants of poker, and have rules that differe to poker.

The Basics

Poker originated in the saloons of the Wild West and has probably the most game variants. It is played player against players and not just against the dealer as in Blackjack, and there is a lot of psychology involved during play.

Poker is played from a standard deck of 52 cards. Some variant games use multiple decks or add Jokers or Wild Cards.

The cards are ranked in descending order starting from the highest; Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. Ace can be high or low. There are four suits; spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs, but no suit is higher than another.

Each player is dealt five cards and is called a hand. The hand highest in ranks wins. In some games there are Wild Cards or Jokers, which can be labelled whatever suit and rank the possessor wishes to.

Playing Poker

In most games players must 'ante' a nominal amount just to have the cards dealt. Once the cards are dealt, the betting starts. Players bet into the pot in the middle of the table and it is done in turn clockwise.

The player with the highest rank showing, is the first to speak and to bet. He can either bet or check. By saying 'Check', he passes the decision to bet to the next player who can also check. If all players check, then it is the end of the round. Everyone opens his cards and the highest hand wins.

Only after one player places a bet the real betting starts. Each player in turn can either 'Call', 'Raise' or 'Fold'. To fold is to pass or drop out of the round and not play. To call means willing to match the bet, and the same amount must be placed on the pot. To raise means to match the bet and add an extra bet.

Say you start with a $5 bet. If someone else raises $10, he puts $15 in the pot. When your turn comes again you need to add $10 difference to the pot to stay in the game, and if you want you can also raise or even say 'Pot'. Pot is a raise to the maximum, which means to bet the same amount as the total money available in the pot.

If there are no more raises and all the cards have been dealt, then it is the end of the round. Everyone opens his closed cards and the highest hand wins the pot.

The Ranking of Poker Hands

The ranking of poker hands starting from the highest are as follows:

Five of a Kind (with a Wild card or Joker)
Royal Flush
Straight Flush
Four of a Kind
Full House
Flush
Straight
Three of a Kind
Two Pair
Pair
High Card

Five of a Kind is only possible when using wild cards and is the highest possible hand. If more than one hand has five-of-a-kind, the higher rank wins; e.g. five Aces beat five kings, which beat five queens, and so on.

Straight Flush is the best natural hand. A straight flush consists of five cards in sequence and of the same suit. An Ace high straight-flush is called a Royal Straight Flush or Royal Flush and is the highest natural hand.

Four of a Kind is a hand that contains of four cards of the same rank. The hand with the highest rank of four-of-a-kind beats other four-of-a-kind hands. If there are many wild cards, as used in some game variants, there could be two four-of-a-kind hands with the same rank. In this case, the hand with the higher ranking fifth card wins. This rule applies to hands that tie, such as a pair or two pairs. Dead heats split the pot.

Full House is a hand consisting of three-of-a-kind and a pair. Again, where Wild Cards are used, ties are compared first by the three-of-a-kind ranking, then the pair.

Flush is a hand consisting of cards that are all of the same suit in any order.

Straight is a hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence, such as 5-6-7-8-9. An Ace may either be high (A-K-Q-J-10) or low (A-2-3-4-5).

Three of a Kind is a hand similar to the four-of-a-kind hand, except that if the remaining two cards are a pair, then it becomes a Full House.

Two Pair is a hand that contains two pairs only.

Pair is a hand that contains one pair only.

High Card is a hand that is none of the above and is a weak hand. If no player has a pair or better, then the hand that contains the highest ranking card wins. If multiple players tie with the highest card, then the second highest card decides, followed by the third and so on.

Note on Wild Cards

How the wild card can be used depends on the game you are playing and the rules. A wild card can be defined as a joker or standard card that, by player agreement and/or dealer's choice, can be used to represent any card desired.

When a joker is in play, it usually can only be used as an Ace or to complete a straight or flush. It cannot be used as a true wild card, for example, as a king to make KK75X play as three kings. When playing for low, the joker becomes the lowest rank not already held, so 864AX is played as 8642A, with the joker used as a deuce.

Wild cards add an additional hand, five of a kind, which normally ranks above a straight flush. They can also cause confusion when two players hold the same hand composed of different wild card combinations. The standard rules of poker do not distinguish between such hands, but some players prefer to rank hands using fewer wild cards above less 'natural' versions of the same hand.

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