Basic Rules of Poker

“It takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master.”

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That's the old saying about poker. If you're interested in learning poker, you've come to the right place.

We strive for simplicity, explaining the rules of poker and the dynamics that define the game.

Let's take the most popular form of poker, no-limit Texas hold'em, as a typical example, and consider a few other forms of poker.

Among the topics we’ll cover are:

  1. How to Win at Poker
  2. Poker Hand Rankings
  3. How to Play the Game (The Flop, Turn and River)
  4. Dealer Button and Blinds
  5. Tournaments vs Cash Games
  6. Variants of Poker

How to Win at Poker

Cash games aim to win cash prizes, while tournaments aim to get to the top of the leaderboard and win high stakes. The mechanics of the two are slightly different and will be explained in more detail later. The aim is the same: to have the best hand at the right time and to win the pot.

To win at poker, you must either bluff your opponent or have the best possible hand at the end (also known as a showdown). In poker, it is important to have the best possible five-card hand. These hands can vary from high cards to royal flushes.

Poker Hands Rankings

The following are the best possible combinations that can be used according to the standard poker rules, in descending order:

  1. Royal Flush:This is the most unusual hand in poker: a combination of ten to ten hands of the same suit, for example A♦K♦Q♦Q♦Q♦J♦T♦.
  2. Straight Flush:A suit is a straight flush if it is followed by five cards of different suits, for example 8♠7♠6♠5♠4♠.
  3. 4-of-a-Kind:The name says it all: four cards like A♠4♠4♣4♥4♦, four times as many as four cards!
  4. Full House:E.g. A♦A♣A♥J♥J♠ (three cards on one side, two on the other).
  5. Flush:There are four suits in a poker hand (diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs). A flush is drawn if there are five cards of the same suit in the same hand. Examples are A♥J♥8♥4♥2♥.
  6. Straight:A sequence of five cards of different suits, such as 8♥7♣6♦5♦4♦4♠, is called a straight; a straight of A-2-3-4-5 is called a wheel; 10-J-Q-K-A is called a Broadway.
  7. 3-of-a-Kind:Three of a kind (A♠K♥5♠5♦5♣) is a triple. If a three of a kind consists of a pair in the hole and one on the board, it is a "set". If a three of a kind is made with two cards on the board and one in the hole, it is called a "trip".
  8. Two Pair:It is not just one pair, but two pairs, with the fifth card being the deciding card. For example, in A♣K♥5♥K♠5♦ there is a king and a five, and the kicker is the ace.
  9. One Pair:There are 13 different cards in each suit; two cards together are called a pair. For example, A♦A♣7♠4♠2♣2 is a pair of aces.
  10. High CardIf nobody can make a sorted hand (different suits, connected, no pair), it all depends on your high cards: if A♣Q♦9♥6♣3♦, queen with ace.

How to Play the Game

The following is a general description of how to play a hand according to the poker rules, with examples below. A game of Texas hold'em without limit starts with each player being dealt two cards face up, called 'hole cards'.

It is a bet, a tie, a raise and a fold.

A player can win by using any combination of his own two cards and the five community cards on the board to form the best five-card hand.


Remember that after the players are dealt their cards, there is a pre-flop betting round. Each "street" or subsequent round has a different name.


FlopThe first three community cards called ..." are drawn.the flop". All other players can use these community cards to try to make the best poker hand. Play continues in betting rounds. The action starts with the first player to the left of the dealer's button following the hand.


TurnAt the end of the flop and turn (AKA Fourth Street) betting round, community cards are dealt. The active player has a total of two hole cards and four community cards, which means that he has the best five-card hand.


Another round of betting follows. This one also starts with the first remaining player sitting to the left of the button. The game continues clockwise. Once all players have completed their actions, the betting round is over.


River – The riveris the fifth and last community card. The last betting round follows. When the cards are revealed (when all the action is over), the players show their cards. The player who bets last is called the last attacker and must show his cards first; the player with five cards wins the pot. This action ends the game and a new hand is played.


ExampleIn $1/2 no-limit hold'em games, you are the first to act after the big blind (more on the blind later). You have a blind of $2, so you can call, raise or fold.


Suppose A♦K♣ raises to $6. The other players fold, and the player in the big blind calls and adds $4.


The flop is A♣5♠6♥ . The player in the big blind starts first and can check or bet. There is no bet, so he does not have to fold. Both players check, and you bet $10 with the highest pair.


The player in the big blind calls and K♦ is turned over. Your opponent checks again. You bet $25 for two pair. The big bettor calls again and the river completes the hand with 2♣.


Your opponent checks, for a third time, and calls when you bet $100.


The action is over, so it’s time to show your cards.


You turn over a double pair (your A♦K♣ and A♣K♦6♥ on the board form your best possible five-card hand).


Show that his opponent had only a pair of A♥Q♠ aces, so he lost. (A♥Q♠ plus A♣K♦6♥ is his best five-card hand).


Congratulations, you won a nice pot!


The rules of poker are even more complex when it comes to how to play a hand and compete with other players. There are several other things to consider, such as where the dealer sits.


Dealer Button and Blinds

For most games, the dealer is responsible for distributing the games. In home poker, it is not uncommon for players to take turns.


If there is a special divider, the button indicates who is sharing. This button moves one point clockwise at the end of each game. The purpose of the button is to determine where the process starts each time.


The action always starts with the first person left of the button.


The player immediately to the left of the button must place (pay) the small blind before the cards are dealt. The player to his left must pay the big blind.


These “blinds"Blind" is a forced bet that allows the player to chase. In poker, if there are no blinds, players do not "blind out". They do not lose chips by folding before the flop.


The player waited until the aces were dealt and went all-in.


For example, if the game is no-limit hold'em with a limit of $1-$2, the player to the left of the button must make a small blind of $1. The next player must place a big bet of $2. If the player refuses to do so, he must leave the game according to the poker rules.


Tournaments vs Cash Games

When playing poker with other players, you can play in one of two ways - tournaments or cash games (also called ring games), which each have their own poker rules.


The above basics are the same, but have four main differences.


  1. Blinds: In cash games, the blinds are always fixed (e.g. $1-$2, $2-$5, etc.) and never increase. In tournaments, however, the blinds increase every X minutes depending on the composition of the blinds. This is to force action and to ensure that the tournament is completed in a timely manner.
  2. Duration:  Cash games are convenient as you can come and go as you please. Tournaments are different. Play continues (according to the blind structure) until a winner is determined.
  3. Chips: In cash games, each chip has a face value corresponding to its actual cash value. In tournaments, the face value of a chip has no actual cash value. For example, in a tournament with a buy-in of USD 100, you may receive 10,000 units of chips.
  4. Like blinds, antes are forced bets, which are placed by the player before the start of the game. They are common in tournaments, but occasionally appear in cash games. Unlike blinds, they do not result in funds being used in the first betting round (pre-flop).


An ante is used to increase the pot before the flop. Ante encourages players to fight for the pot;dead money in the middle.


Note that to save time, the normal ante has been replaced by a "button" or "big blind" ante (a higher ante taken from the player by the player). This format is used to speed up the pace of play, especially in tournaments.


All players have a button ante in each orbit, as the blinds are exchanged at the end of each hand.


Variants of Poker

While Texas Hold’emIt is the most popular form of poker, but not the only one. There are dozens of variants, many of which are trying to catch up with the popularity of holdem.


Here’s a look at some of poker’s other variants: