Poker rules and how to play
Omaha, Hold'em and Let it Ride are variants of poker, and
have rules that differe to poker.
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.
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
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 Ranking of Poker Hands
The ranking of poker hands starting
from the highest are as follows:
Five of a Kind (with a Wild card
Four of a Kind
Three of a Kind
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
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.
Back to How to Play