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Poker Rules

Of all the gambling games available, poker is probably the most popular. All poker games have slightly different gameplay. However, they also follow a set of poker rules which have been set into stone ages ago.

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Even when other games overtook poker as the most popular games in casinos in the mid-XX century, poker returned to the throne in the 2000s thanks to the so-called poker boom.

The same poker boom introduced a new variant called Texas Hold’em which became popular instantly and is commonly enjoyed nowadays.

How Do I Get Started?

Since the beginning of the XX century, poker went from a recreational game to a popular pastime activity for players and spectators both. Adding bets to the game made it even more popular and competitive, with large groups of people playing it on a regular basis and poker tournaments now being organized every year.

The casual poker rules are different from the rules in organized tournament versions of the game. When it comes to casual poker, players take turns dealing a hand, while in a casino, the dealer has this responsibility. Players are also required to make forced bets (Ante or Blind, sometimes both) at the beginning of the game. Once the bets are placed, the first of many betting rounds begin.

During the rounds, players can match the other bets, raise them or fold and forfeit their hand. The bets are placed in a so-called pot in the middle of the table, with the winning player collecting it whole. If the last betting round sees more than two players remain in the game, a showdown between them (their poker hands) reveals the winner.

How Can I Win at Poker?

Poker is a game that involves strategy, a lot of practice, and some smarts as well. You can’t rely on luck as you’re playing against others, so you’ll have to learn more about the game before sitting down at a poker table. Practice is the only way to get better at poker and eventually win a few rounds. The good thing is that the game is simple to understand and learn if you put in the effort.

Poker Hands

As you may already know, poker hands are the most important part of this card game. Poker hands are usually formed from 5 cards. Each of these hands has a certain value and ranking. The higher the rank, the bigger the chances that you’ll win. In general, the highest ranking poker hand win in each variation, with a few that favor low ranking poker hands.

poker rules royal flush
Royal flush of hearts

Poker hands are essentially the point where you start with poker. You can’t proceed to learn more about the game if you don’t know the rank of each hand. There’s a total of nine hand categories, but you can form many hands from a single standard 52-card deck. There are also special hands that include a wild, although they’re only available in special poker variants.

Also known as the ultimate hand in poker, Five of a Kind is only possible when using a wild or a joker. As the name suggests, it consists of five cards from the same rank – it could be threes, aces, queens or any other rank of cards. As there are only four cards of a rank in one deck, a fifth card such as a wild or joker must be introduced for this hand.

The higher the rank of the quintuplet, the more powerful the hand is. For example, a Five of a Kind made up of 9s trumps that of 7s.

A straight flush consists of five cards in sequential order from the same suit. As a general rule, aces can either rank high or low in this hand. Straight Flushes are ranked by the value of their highest card. Royal Flush is the most powerful type of Straight Flush hand and consists of A, K, Q, J, and a 10.
Four of a Kind

The concept for this hand is similar to Five of a Kind, except this time, you have four cards of the same suit plus a kicker. For example, you may get a 6, 6, 6, 6, J, which is called Four of a Kind, sixes). The rank of this hand is ranked by the quadruplet and then the kicker as well.

A full house is a poker hand consisting of three cards of one rank and two of another. The hand is ranked by the value of the triplet and then the value of the pair.

The flush is another five-card poker hand like the Royal Flush, but this time, the cards can be of non-sequential rank. For example, a hand of K, 10, 7, 6, and Four of clubs ranks as a flush. The hand is ranked first by its highest ranking card, then the second highest, the third, etc.

The rest of the nine categories of poker hands are the Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pairs, and One Pair. There’s also another hand called No Pair or High Card that can’t be put into any category.

Betting Rules

Betting is a vital part of any poker game. In the past, the card game was played for fun, but it became even more exciting when betting was added in the mix. The betting takes place before the cards have been dealt and during the game.

Once the round is underway, a player can take many actions. First is the option to check. Checking means passing up the opportunity to bet. It passes clockwise from player to player and is only available when no one has made a bet yet.

Of course, players can also bet during the round. As soon as the first player makes a bet, the others can either call or raise it. The raise itself can be matched by others or raised once again by other players at the table.

Finally, a player can also forfeit the round by calling fold. In this way, a player eliminates himself from the current round and he can no longer act.

Depending on the variant, the betting structure is essentially the same except for a few changes. For example, Texas Hold’em has four betting rounds during which a player can act.

rules poker
Winning poker player

What’s a Showdown?

Earlier, we mentioned the term showdown. A showdown takes place after the last bet has been called or raised. At that point, the remaining active players in the round compare their hands, with the one ranked the highest winning the pot. The players will show their hands in the order at the table, and depending on the rules, the pot may be shared.

Betting Limits in Poker

The betting limits in poker can have a fixed limit or no limit at all, but they may also be determined by the pot. Poker games with no limit are most common in poker tournaments. As the name suggests, a no-limit poker game allows players to bet as much as they want when it’s their turn to act. In case of a fixed limit game, they can bet, call, and raise by a fixed amount.

If the game has a pot limit betting structure, the bets are determined by the total size of the pot. Some poker games feature the so-called blinds. If you ever see a big or small blind at a poker table, don’t be confused. The big blind usually equals the minimum bet, while the small blind equals half that bet. The blinds are essentially forced bets players are required to make during a flop-style game of poker.

If the game doesn’t use blinds, the smallest bet available is determined by the chip with the lowest value. Any bet higher than it is considered a raise. Poker games with no blinds usually require players to post an Ante bet at the beginning of the round.

All-In

If you’ve ever watched a Hollywood movie about poker, you’ve surely seen a player going All-In. It usually involves betting his house, savings, a car, and whatnot. And, although you can’t just throw your car or luxury watch to the pot, you can still bet everything in front of you whenever you don’t have enough chips to resume playing.

When this happens, your chips go in a side pot which you can’t win whole. If several players go All-In, there can be several side pots at the poker table. So, no, you can’t just stake your car when you can’t match the last bet. You can’t stake your house as well. You can just bet what you have left, but you can’t win the whole portion in the pot. You can win a portion of the pot that totals the whole stack you had at the beginning of the hand.

The All-In bet is only available in table stakes poker games, where you can use only the chips in play at the beginning of the round. This Hollywood famous rule states that a player isn’t forced to forfeit his hand whenever he doesn’t have the money to call a bet.

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