Poker rules

The Rules of Poker

Poker is basically a game of chances. However, when the concept of betting is introduced, poker gains a bit of psychology and skill. Each of the variations of the game of poker has its own set of rules for playing. However, there are some standard rules which apply across the board regarding certain circumstances. Learning and then understanding these rules will make the learning different poker variations to be easier and more enjoyable.

Poker rules

This list of the poker rules is currently broken into 5 parts:

The Very Basics How Hands are Ranked Descriptions of the Hand Ranks Betting An Example of a 5-Card Draw HandTHE VERY BASICS

Poker is normally played from a standard pack containing 52 cards although some variant games use a number of packs or add few cards known as jokers. The cards are then ranked (in descending order) Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. The Ace is usually high although it can also be on both ends. There are 4 suits (spades, diamonds, clubs and hearts). No suit is higher than the other. All hands contain 5 cards and the highest hand normally wins.

Some poker games have Wild Cards that can take on whatever rank and suit that their possessor desires. At times jokers will be used as the wild cards while other games normally specify the cards that will be used as wild; one-eyed jacks, deuces or any other.


Hands in poker games are ranked as shown below (in descending order):

Five of any given Kind Straight Flush Four of a given Kind Full House Flush Straight Three of a given Kind Two Pairs Pair High Cards


Five of any given Kind

A five of any kind (only possible when wild cards are used) is the highest possible hand. In the event that more than one hand has 5 of a kind, then the higher card wins (5 Aces will beat 5 kings, which beats 5 queens, and so on).

Straight Flush

This is the best natural hand. A straight flush refers to a straight (five cards in the correct order; such as 4-5-6-7-8) which are all of a similar suit. In a regular straight, one can have an ace which is either high for instance A-K-Q-J-T or one which is low for instance 5-4-3-2-1. However, a straight might not ‘wraparound’ thus K-A-2-3-4 does not form a straight. An Ace high straight flush is usually referred to as a Royal Flush and it forms the highest natural hand.

Four of a Kind

Four of a kind is basically four cards of a similar rank. In case there are 2 or more hands which qualify, the hand having the higher-rank 4 of a kind cards wins. If, in some bizarre games having a lot of wild cards, there are 2 four of a kind having the same rank, then the person having the high cards outside the 4 of the kind usually wins. The general rule is, when the hands tie on a rank of a pair for instance three of a kind, the cards outside the rank will break the tie following the High Card rule.

Full House

A full house refers to three of a given kind and a pair, for instance K-K-K-5-5. In such cases, the ties will be broken first by the 3 of a kind, then the pair. As a result, K-K-K-2-2 will beat Q-Q-Q-A-A, which beats the Q-Q-Q-J-J. Obviously, the 3 of a kind will only be similar if the wild cards are also used.


A flush refers to a hand where all of cards are of a similar suit, for instance J-8-5-3-2, all of diamonds. When the flushes tie, the rules for High Card are then followed.


A straight refers to 5 cards in correct order, for instance 4-5-6-7-8. The Ace might either be higher (A-K-Q-J-T) or lower (5-4-3-2-1). However, a straight might not ‘wraparound’ thus Q-K-A-2-3 is not a straight. In case a straight ties, the highest straight will win thus AKQJT will beat KQJT9. In the event that 2 straights have similar value (AKQJT vs AKQJ), then the pot is split.

Three of a Kind

This refers to 3 cards of any given rank which are matched with 2 cards which are not a pair (otherwise it would form a Full House). Again, the highest 3 of any kind wins. In case both are of a similar rank, then the High Cards are compared.

Two Pairs

This refers to 2 distinct pairs of cards and the 5th card. The highest pair wins ties. If both hands have the same high pair, the second pair wins. If both hands have the same pairs, the high card wins.


This is one pair having three distinct cards. The High card rule usually breaks ties.

High Card

This is any hand that does not qualify as one of the above described hands. In case no person has a pair, then the highest card will win. If a number of people tie on the highest card, then they look at the second highest card and the sequence follows. High card is also used in breaking ties when both high hands have similar types for instance pair, straight or flush.


Therefore, how does one bet? Poker is a gambling game. In many games, you have to ‘ante’ something (the amount usually varies by game) so as to get the dealt cards. After that the players bet into a pot placed in the middle. At the end of the hands, the highest hand (the one which has not folded) wins the pot. In simple terms, when betting gets around to you, you will have one of these three choices:


When you decide to call, you bet enough amounts so as to match the amount that has been bet from the last time that you bet. For example, if you did bet a dime the last time and another person bet a quarter, you will owe fifteen cents.


When you decide to raise, you will first bet enough amounts that match the amount which has been bet since the last time that you bet just bas it is the case with calling. You will then ‘raise’ the bet with another amount. Using the above example, in case you bet a dime and someone raised you 15 cents, you may raise a quarter. Since you were owing the pot fifteen cents for the call and 25 cents for your raise, you will then put forty cents into the pot.


When you decide to fold, you will drop out of the current hand thus losing any possibility of being the winner of the pot. However, you do not have to put any of your money back into the pot.

Betting will continue until every person calls or folds after an initial bet or raise.


A 5 card draw is among most common poker hands. Every player is dealt with 5 cards, then rounds of betting follow. Each player might discard up to three cards or 4 in case your last card is a wild card or an Ace and then get back as many cards from the deck as he discarded. There is then another round of betting before hands are revealed during the showdown and the highest hand wins. Therefore you are usually the dealer during a 5 card draw game against 4 other players. Everyone will put a nickel into the Ante (pot) and you will deal out five cards to every player before starting to play poker.