Poker Rules: Learn How to Play All Forms of the Game Online
Poker rules can sometimes be difficult to get to grips with. While it can be a rather confusing card game at first, after a couple of play-throughs you may it easier to play. However, it would be best to look at the rules before doing so as you will master poker much quicker that way.
Whether you’re a novice just starting out or a veteran refreshing your memory, today we’re going to provide you with some of the basic poker rules as well as how best to make use of them. Here is what we’ll cover:
- The basic poker rules
- The different hands plus examples
- All bets you can make
- Most common online poker variations
Hopefully, by the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of poker rules and how best to employ them when you play online poker or just poker in real life.
Poker Rules: the Basics
Here’s a quick round of basic poker facts.
- Poker is an old game played with a standard pack of 52 playing cards.
- The cards are handed out by a dealer or croupier who keeps guard of the money that’s wagered.
- Up to ten people can play poker at one time and we personally believe the more there is, the better the game.
- Players put in bets of real money into a pot which is given to the winner of each hand.
- Some variations of the game use more than one pack of cards or include jokers, but that is the most basic requirement.
- The money is usually represented by tokens or “chips” which tend to have the value from anywhere in between 50p and £100,000.
- That isn’t to say, however, that you can’t play poker just for fun and used “fake money” as the wager.
- Plenty of poker games are played in which different colour matchsticks represent money. It is best agreed that poker is best played with real money, though the game is highly risky and not for the naturally cautious.
There aren’t really any standardised rules to poker, although throughout all the variations there are plenty of mutual rules to form a “basic poker” rule system with which you can abide by.
The cards are ranked thusly in value order: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. As you have doubtless guessed, Ace can be valued at either 11 or 1 depending on your hand. Jokers have no value whatsoever but can be used as a wild card in some poker types.
Of course, there are four suits: spades (♠), hearts(♥), diamonds (♦) and clubs (♣). You can win hands based on these suits, however, none has more value than the others. A standard game of poker has five cards per hand though variations can have less or more.
Some forms of the game have something called “Wild Cards” which may take on whichever value or suit the player wants. Wild Cards can be massively advantageous depending if you play your cards right, pun fully intended.
Jokers are included in this, though rarely used. The game always specifies which cards are wild. These can be either a deuce or one-eyed jacks. A deuce is basically one of the number two value cards in the deck. One-eyed jacks are the Jack of Spades and Jack of Hearts, the only two jacks in any deck with only one visible eye.
Poker Rules: Hands
Out of all 52 cards in a playing deck, there are many possible hands one could receive while playing poker. Fortunately, many of those hands are also winning hands.
If you watch any movie that involves gambling, you may hear players shout out ” straight flush” or “four of a kind”. Unless you know poker rules thoroughly, however, you may be entirely unaware as to what these phrases mean.
Well, without further ado, here are all the possible winning hands you could earn in a game of poker, ranked from the highest to the lowest value:
- Five of a kind *
- Straight flush
- Four of a kind
- Full house
- Three of a kind
- Two pair
- High Card
While you could have one, several, or none of these possible hands, it’s integral you understand them so you know how best to make your bet.
* – Please bear in mind, five of a kind does not appear in every version of poker and is probably the hardest hand to acquire as it requires more than one deck of cards.
Five of a Kind
The highest possible win, five of a kind is only achievable when using Wild Cards. This is when a player gets five cards of the same value. The player with the highest value cards wins. For example, if a player has five Aces over another player with five Kings, the former wins.
A straight flush is the best possible hand by natural means. It is a set of five cards in “straight” numerical order. For example, if a player has 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 in order, that constitutes a straight flush. They must be of the same suit, however. Having more than one suits in a flush doesn’t count.
Four of a Kind
Four of a kind is like five of a kind only with four of the same cards. Four kings will, naturally, win over four queens any day. There is no Wild Card needed to complete the set.
A full house is a three of a kind and a pair. So, for example, if you get three kings and two fives, this would count as a pair. Naturally, this gets confusing when there’s a tie so to discourage that, the value’s counted by the three of a kind, then the pair. So a K-K-K-2-2 would rank higher than a Q-Q-Q-A-A.
A flush is where five cards of the same suit occur. For instance, a J-9-6-3-A of spades would be a flush. If a tie occurs, players must abide by the High Card rule which dictates that, whoever has the highest card, wins.
A straight is five cards in numerical order, no matter the suit. So this means you could have all four suits in one hand and still win. For instance, 2-3-6-7-J would be a ‘straight’. If another player has the same value, the pot will be split between the two players.
Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same rank in one hand, ranking higher than a pair. Once again, whoever has the highest three of a kind wins.
Two pairs are literally two distinct pairs of cards with an additional fifth card. If both hands have the same high pair, the second wins, while the same pair means the high card wins.
One pair with three other cards distinct from them. The higher card of the pair wins. So if you have a Ten of Spades and a King of Hearts, while your opponent has a Queen of Clubs and Ten of Diamonds, your King will win as it is of higher value than the queen.
This is for any hand that does not fall into the above categories. If no combination offers any of the kinds of hands you could possibly get in poker, then the highest value card will be judged. This is also used, as referenced above, to break ties in other hand types.
Poker Rules: Bets
So, how does one make a bet in poker? There are three ways one can choose to participate in a wager and each of them offers there own range of advantages and disadvantages. You must choose which course of action befits the situation you find yourself in.
These actions are as follows:
You may put a bet into the pot (sometimes there’s a minimum amount you can bet at first) at the beginning of each game after each card has been dealt. You may up the ante a bit more or drop out at any time before every card is handed out.
When you call, this means you’ve bet enough to match what has been bet since the previous time you put money in the pot. For example, if you’ve bet £5 and someone else bets £10, you need to bet an extra £5 at least to match. After you call, all the players reveal their cards.
When you raise, the first bet has to be enough to match what others have bet, then you can ‘raise’ the bet as per the example above. This can be used as a bluffing technique and, if done strategically, could win you the pot.
So, if you bet £5 and someone else bets £10, you can make things interesting by betting an extra £15. Proceed to do this with caution, however, as a badly-judged raise could mean you lose your entire hand.
Folding means you drop out of the current hand, meaning you lose every possibility of winning the pot but also eliminate the risk of losing all your funds. Folds cost nothing and are a wise move in many circumstances, especially if you know you cannot win.
Online Poker Variants
While these poker rules are generally universal, some variants on said rules do exist. In fact, there are plenty of them and sometimes a slight bend of the rules can change a game entirely.
There are many different kinds of poker and you’ll find them all online. Some variations are more popular than others, however, and the most common versions are often prioritised when you visit a video poker site.
Here are the five most common poker variations online:
- Texas Hold ‘Em
- Seven-card Stud
- 2-7 Triple Draw
- Chinese Poker
Without a doubt, Texas Hold ‘Em is the most common version of poker which is played across the world. In fact, many of these poker rules are used while playing Texas Hold ‘Em as it is the easiest form of poker to understand.
The other four are less common but are still pretty popular and can be found at any online poker site as well as any real-life casino. In case you’re unsure on any particular rule, however, your dealer will be more than happy to explain it. Don’t expect them to help you to win, though, as that is definitely against poker rules.
While this guide may act as a springboard into your poker ventures, we advise you carry out your own research based on whichever version of the game you wish to play. We also advise you play numerous “mock” versions of poker before you play with real money.
We hope it goes without saying that not knowing the rules can prove to be a massive disadvantage. Relying on luck alone is not an effective strategy for poker-playing and constantly bluffing the cover up your ineptitude is ill-advised. A well-versed poker player can spot a faker from a mile off.
Overall, we hope you have found this guide useful and use it to your best advantage while playing any version of poker, whether that be online or in real life.