Poker Rules

Poker rules of all poker variations generally state that the main objective of the games is to make the best or worst five-card hand, based on specific poker hand rankings. Depending on what poker game you are playing and where you are playing, poker rules can vary greatly. Online poker rules are the same as those that are followed in land-based casinos and poker tournaments. Continue reading to find out more.

08-03-09 - Haylie Kramer
While all poker variations each have a unique set of rules, there are some general poker rules that ring true for every poker game.

08-03-09 - Haylie Kramer
Every poker hand begins and ends with the potential to win the pot. If you aren’t familiar with the poker hand rankings that win poker pots, you’ll always be one step behind your opponents. Learn the rankings for poker hands here.

08-03-09 - Haylie Kramer
In Omaha Poker, which is similar to Texas Holdem, the action begins with the position to the left of the dealer; this player is the big blind. The player at the next left is the small blind, which is usually half of the big blind.

08-03-09 - Haylie Kramer
If you know how to play Omaha Poker, you already have a head start on Omaha Hi/Lo. The basic rules and play structure are the same, but the difference lies in the rankings of the winning hand(s).

08-03-09 - Haylie Kramer
Seven Card Stud Poker, like other variations of stud poker, starts with an ante. An ante is somewhat of a buy-in, as it is a mandatory wager that all players must make to participate in a hand.

Basic Poker Rules

Basic poker rules require players to bet on their hands to win the pot that can facilitate typically two to ten poker players. Poker rules are defined by the type of poker being played and the limits and stakes that are allowed at the table. Each unique poker variation has its own set of poker rules, and while some games are often very similar to others, they are also often very different. What makes all poker games related though is the unique hand ranking system that is used to value the resulting five-card poker hands that are the end result of most poker variations.

Playing Poker

In general most poker rules require that a poker game begin with a forced bet of either an ante or a blind, followed by the betting action of each player, around the table to the left, until one betting round is complete by every player having the opportunity to act. Within a betting round, every player must either match the previous bet, raise, or fold. If all players but one fold, the remaining player, whether his hand ranks or not, wins the pot. Otherwise, a showdown takes place in which players show their cards, and the best hand wins. General poker rules also dictate that between each hand, the dealer position rotates around the table, but in land-based and online casinos, the house dealer handles the cards. A dealer button is passed around the table to indicate which player is in the dealer position for each hand. This is important because the poker rules regarding betting structure for many games are determined by the dealer’s position.

While poker is a gamblers game, many argue that due to poker rules that govern the game, the outcome of the game is based on the players own unique choices and actions throughout the game. Because of this, poker is more a game of probability, skill, and psychology, than a game of pure chance.

Variations of Poker Rules

The underlying object of all poker rules is to win the pot by acquiring the best possible ranking poker hand, or the worst as in hi/lo games. But not all poker games are carried out in the same manner. There are multiple variations of poker, all of which fall under three poker families.

The oldest and most basic family of poker is straight poker. The poker rules for straight poker are rather simple. A complete hand of cards is dealt to players and all betting takes place in one round, including raising and re-raising. Straight hands consisting of five cards are played at showdown. Straight poker is the oldest of poker families, but more common and complex variations of poker are played more frequently today.

The second family of poker is Stud Poker, for which the poker rules are more complicated. In Stud Poker, cards are dealt to players in a specific combination of face-up and face down rounds, called streets. Each street is followed by a betting round. The most popular of Stud poker is Seven-Card Stud, in which the poker rules require each player to be dealt a combination of three face-up cards and four face-down cards throughout five streets/betting rounds. At the end, as in typical poker rules, the best five-card poker hand wins. Community Poker, which is actually a variation of Stud, has become the most popular poker style, worldwide. In Community Poker, rules state that players are dealt a partial hand of cards, face-down, and a number of community cards face-up (typically five) in the middle of the table. All players can then use these cards, along with the hole cards in their hands, to make the best five-card poker hand, according to the poker rules.

 Finally, Draw Poker, is another family of poker games, the most popular being Five-Card Draw Poker. Rules for this game state that each player is dealt their entire five-card hand face-down, and then have the opportunity to improve their hands by discarding cards from their hands and being dealt new ones, after betting. Again, the best five-card hand wins.