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The Rules of Poker

Poker Rules

the rules of pokerWhile there are many different poker variants, in 2024 the most popular and most widely played by far around the world is Texas Hold'em poker. As such, the following poker rules pertain to Texas Hold'em poker.

Types of Texas Hold'em Poker

There are three types of Texas Hold'em online poker- No Limit, Limit and Pot Limit. The rules of each are identical except that in no limit games you can bet anything from the minimum bet up to your entire chip stack. This is called 'going all-In'.

In limit poker games, you can only bet a certain amount as per that game's set limits, while in pot limit games you can only bet as high as the value of the pot.

How to Play Poker

Texas Hold'em is played with a standard 52 card deck with 2 to 10 players.

The objective of Texas Hold'em poker is to make the best five card hand (as per regular ranking poker hands - see below) with your two hole cards and three of the five community cards, and ultimately win the pot.

Unlike other poker games where all the players must put in a small initial bet known as an 'ante', Texas Hold'em makes use of 'blinds' instead.

Poker Blinds

During each hand only two players have to pay blinds, a 'Small Blind' and a 'Big Blind' respectively. The Small Blind is traditionally half of the Big Blind which itself is the equivalent of the minimum bet for the hand.

With every hand of Texas Hold'em poker, the two players to the immediate left of the dealer (the player with the Dealer Button, but who is not the actual card dealer) posts the blinds.

The player to the immediate left of the dealer posts the Small Blind while the second player to the left posts the Big Blind. After each hand, the dealer button moves one player to the left (clockwise).

Poker Hole / Pocket Cards

Once the blinds are in, the dealer will deal each player two 'Hole or Pocket Cards' face down.

During course of play, the dealer will deal five cards known as 'The Board' or 'Community Cards' face up on the table after each round of betting (if the hand reaches that far), which you can everyone else in the hand can use to make the best five card hand.

In the first round, the dealer deals three cards face up known as 'the Flop'. In the second round, he or she will deal a fourth card face up which is known as 'the Turn'. In the final round, the dealer will deal the fifth and last card face up which is known as 'the River'.

Poker Betting

In a hand of Texas Hold'em, betting always starts with the player to the left of the player that posted the Big Blind and is known as the 'pre-flop betting round'.

After looking at your Hole Cards, you have three options - to 'check' (not bet) but stay in the game, 'bet' or 'fold'. If you check, the player to your left has the same three options and so on until the dealer deals the flop. (Note that the Small Blind player always has to match the Big Blind in order to stay in the hand and see the Flop).

However, if you or any other player bets in the pre-flop round, the remaining players no longer have the option to check. They must either 'call' (match the initial bet), fold (throw in their cards), 'raise' (increase the bet size), or 're-raise' (raise a preceding player's raise).

If you re-raise the initial bet or bets, then to stay in the hand, all players must match all of the preceding raises. Once players have either folded or matched all bets/raises, the dealer deals the Flop.

This is now the second betting round, and starts with the player to the immediate left of the dealer (formerly the Small Blind). Checking, betting, folding, raising and re-raising can take place as it did in the pre-flop round.

Once players have checked, folded or matched all bets/raises, the dealer will deal the Turn card for the third betting round. Players can once again check / bet / call / fold / raise / re-raise until the dealer deals the final card.

When the River card is dealt, it indicates the fourth and final betting round. Once everyone has bet / folded etc, the remaining players must show their cards in a 'showdown' and the player with the best hand wins the accumulated pot.

Winning Hands in Poker

When players have the same hands, it is important to understand that the highest hand always wins the pot.

For example, if two players each have a pair, one with 2 Kings and one with 2 Aces, the player with the Aces wins the pot.

However, if both players have a pair of Aces, the player with the highest 'kicker' or extra card wins the pot.

For instance if player A has a pair of Aces and his next highest card is a Jack, and player B has a pair of Aces and her next highest card is a Queen, she will win the pot.

If the board shows a ranked hand such as two pairs, and the remaining players cannot improve upon those two pairs using their hole cards, this is known as a 'split pot' and the pot is split equally amongst the players.

Poker Hand Values

Royal Flush

royal flush
All cards of the same suit that rank from 10 through to Ace.

Straight Flush

straight flush
All cards of the same suit that rank in sequence.

4 of a Kind

four of a kind
Four cards of the same value.

Full House

full house
Three cards of same value plus two cards of same value.


All cards of the same suit.


Unsuited cards which rank in sequence.

3 of a Kind

three of a kind
Three cards of the same value.

2 Pairs

two pairs
Two pairs of different values.

1 Pair

one pair
One pair of the same value.

High Card

high card
The highest card in your hand.
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