Poker Rules

There are many variations to the game of Poker.  It is a truly American game enjoyed by many people.  Here are some of the rules to some of the games of Poker.  This is not a complete list of Poker Rules, but has some of the more popular poker variations.
If you don't find your poker game here, try these other poker game pages... Omaha Poker  Texas Hold Em'  Seven Card Stud/Hi-LO
Poker uses a standard pack of playing cards, 52 cards (there are some poker games that use more or less depending upon the variations such as adding wild cards like jokers).  The card ranking is as follows; Ace (the highest), King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (the lowest), Ace (this may also be the lowest card depending on the variations you are using, but it is usually the highest).

There are four suits (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs).  No suit is higher than another. Most but not all  poker hands contain five cards, the highest hand wins.

The use of Wild Cards depends on the variations,  wild cards take on whatever rank or suit you want it to take.  A wild card can either be a separate card added like a joker or you may specify a certain card in the standard deck to be wild like deuces, one-eyed jacks or whatever else.

The number of cards dealt is dependant on what type of game you are playing:  5 card stud, you are dealt five cards and 7 card stud, you are dealt seven.   Five card draw is the standard poker game where 5 cards are dealt to each player face down.

Ranking of the hands -it wouldn't be a bad idea to print a copy of this for use during your first poker game, but I would recommend memorizing it to prevent uncontrolled laughter from your opponents.

1.Five of a Kind -A five of a kind, only possible when using wild cards, is the highest possible hand. If more than one hand has five of a kind, the higher cards wins, five Aces will beat five kings, which beats five queens, and continues on by the ranking of the cards.

2.Straight Flush-A straight flush is the best natural hand. A straight flush is a straight (5 cards in order, such as 7-8-9-10-J) that are all of the same suit. As in a regular straight, you can have an ace either high (A-K-Q-J-T) or low (A-2-3-4-5). You can not use the Ace in a wraparound and example would be K-A-2-3-4, which is not a straight. An Ace high straight-flush is called a Royal Flush and is the highest natural hand.

3.Four of a Kind- Four cards of the same rank like four Aces or Four Kings. If there are two or more hands that qualify, the hand with the higher-rank four of a kind wins. Very rarely, I mean really rarely, if you are playing a game with a lot of wild cards, you may have two four of a kinds with the same rank.  In this case you use the High Card rule (number 10 on this list).

4.Full House-A full house is a three of a kind and a pair, such as K-K-K-2-2. When there are two full houses the tie is broken by the three of a kind.  An example would be J-J-J-5-5 would beat 9-9-9-A-A.  If for some reason the three of a kind cannot determine the victor then you go to the pair to decide (this would only happen in a game with wild cards).  An example of this would be K-K-K-A-A would beat K-K-K-J-J.  

5.Flush-A flush is a hand where all of the cards are the same suit, such as A-J-9-7-5, all of Diamonds. When flushes ties, follow the rules for High Card.
Straight-Five cards in rank order, but not of the same suit (it can be any combination of the four suits).  An example of a straight is 2-3-4-5-6. The Ace can either be high or low card, either A-2-3-4-5 or 10-J-Q-K-A.  Wraparounds are not allowed (an example being K-A-2-3-4).  When two straights tie, the highest straight wins, K-Q-J-10-9 would beat 5-4-3-2-A.  If two straights have the same value, AKQJT vs AKQJT, the pot is split.

6.Three of a Kind-Three cards of any rank with the remaining cards not being a pair (that would be a full house if it were).  Once again the highest ranking three of a kind would win.  K-K-K-2-4 would beat Q-Q-Q-2-3.  If both are the same rank (only in a wild card game), then the High Card rule come into effect with the remaining two.

7.Two Pair-Two distinct pairs of card and a 5th card. The highest ranking 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.

8.One Pair - pair with three distinct cards.  Highest ranking pair wins.  High card breaks ties.
High Card- When a hand doesn't even have a pair, then it comes down to who is holding the highest ranking card.  If there is a tie for the high card then the next high card determines the pot, if that card is a tie than it continues down till the third, fourth, and fifth card.  The High card is also used to break ties when the high hands both have the same type of hand (pair, flush, straight, etc).

Now that you know how the hands rank, let's talk about betting.

Betting-In most poker games you start the betting with an ante just to get the cards dealt.  The ante is dependent upon who you are playing with, a friendly game would usually have an ante of a penny, nickel, or dime, I personally like a nickel ante when playing with friends.  The money is put in the center of the table and is called the pot.  At the end of a hand the highest hand, of the players that remain (some may have folded), wins the pot.  

You have three choices when the betting gets to you (betting is handled in a clockwise order) and here they are:

Call-betting enough to match what has been bet since the last time you bet.  An example would be if you bet 25 cents and somebody than bid 35 cents when to you you would owe 10 cents .  If you Call than you would put the amount that you owed into the pot and you would stay in the hand.
Raise-when you raise you first put enough in the pot to match what has already been bet and then you would raise the pot by putting an additional amount in (a friendly game would usually have a limit to how much money you could raise).  So lets say the initial bet was 25 cents, you would have to put in 25 cents and than say I'll raise you another 25 cents.  Now the other players will either Call, Raise, or fold.
Fold-dropping out of the current hand and losing the possibility of winning the pot.  You don't have to put money in and you would only lose the ante, if its on the first turn, or whatever you put in the pot later.  As the Kenny Rodgers song says, "you gotta know when to fold them."  Sometimes it is just better to get out then waste good money on bad cards.

Betting is always dependent on the people you are playing with and the rules that they prescribe.  Games between friends should always have low limits set on the ante, the amount you could raise, and the top amount the pot could grow to.  These rules are best because winning a big pot is never worth losing a friend over.  So set the ante at a nickel, the raises at a quarter, and don't let the pot go over a few dollars.  This is the best way to handle a friendly game.

A quick example of a game of Five Card Draw

Everyone puts in the ante and five cards are dealt face down to each player.  Then a round of betting occurs.  Then the player can discard up to three cards (4 if your last card is an ace or a wild card, this rule is set by the players) and get (from the deck) as many new cards  as they discarded. Then there is another round of betting, and then hands are revealed and the highest hand wins the pot.

Now you know the basics, but applying them and learning how to bluff and read your opponents will make you a good poker player. Use the information in the next dcolumn to learn the rules of each poker variation.

Rules for Variations of Poker

7-card Stud - a variation on poker.  3 to 5 players can play this game.  The initial deal is two cards down and one card up to each player.  The first betting round starts with the highest hand showing or for the first round the high card.  Then another card is dealt up and another betting round this is repeated until there are four cards face up.  Then a final card is dealt down and a final betting round held.  The ranking of the hands are the same as regular poker except to take the five best cards out of the ones you are dealt.  Variations on the game is to allow wild cards and a five of a kind.  This is personally my favorite kind of poker. Seven Card Stud/Hi-Lo another variation click here.

5-card Stud - another variation on poker.  This is played much like 7-card stud only with 5-cards.  The initial deal can vary in this game and depends on how your group wants to play.  5 card stud is usually dealt either 2 down, 3 up, or 1 down, 4 up, or 1 down, 3 up, 1 down.  Once again it is played exactly like 7-card stud with betting rounds held when each new card is put down.  Variations can be the use of wild cards and the rank of hands are the standard one in poker.

Caribbean Stud is a 5 card stud poker game.

How to Play:
To play, the player must place a bet in the ante circle. The player gets 5 cards face down and the dealer gets 4 cards face down with 1 card exposed. The player looks at their cards and has the option to play or fold. If the Player wishes to play, they have to bet exactly double ante. If the player wishes to fold, they forfeit the ante. After the player has made a decision, the dealer reveals remaining 4 cards. The dealer only plays with Ace and King or higher. If the dealer has Ace and King or higher, the dealer then compares house cards to the player's cards. If the player's cards beat the dealer's cards the player will receive even money (1-1) on the ante, and a bonus amount on the bet.

Bonus Payout Schedule:

  1-1  1 Pair or less   
  2-1  2 Pair   
  3-1  3 of a Kind  
  4-1  Straight   
  5-1  Flush   
  7-1  Full House   
  20- 4 of a Kind   
  50- Straight Flush   
  100-1 Royal Flush   

Bonus reward may not exceed table's maximum payout.
If the dealer does not have at least Ace and King, the player receives even money (1-1) on ante. If the dealer's cards beat the player's cards, the dealer collects ante and bet.
In addition to the table play, there is an extra added attraction to Caribbean Stud. The progressive Super Jackpot!!! You play by dropping one token into the slot in the table prior to making the ante. For this token, you receive a chance at the Progressive Super Jackpot!!!, regardless of the outcome of the table bet.

  Royal Flush  100%  
  Straight Flush  1000 
  4 of a Kind  $500  
  Full House  $250  
  Flush  $100   

Chicago - another variation on poker.  This game is exactly like 7-card stud except that the high spade in the hole splits the spot.  The ranking of the hands are  standard poker with the best five cards being used.  Wild cards and five of a kind is the variations.

Liars Poker - Shouldn't even be called a variation on poker but it is.  However this game is a riot to play. 2-10 players can play this game.   The initial deal is one card to each player, with a fine (usually $1) and the player is out if he looks at his own card. This is how you play the game: Each player holds his card up so that everyone else can see it. Then starting with the player to the left of the dealer, betting begins. Once the betting is down with, each player looks at his card and the winner takes his pot. The deal then rotates to the left. The game continues for one deck. This is basically a who has the highest card game, but not knowing what your card is can drive you crazy, especially if there is no limit to the pot.  High Card rules in this game Ace high, two Low.  This game is fun to play and is the ultimate in bluffing.  Try keeping a straight face when your friend continues to raise while he is holding a 2 of clubs.

Lowball - variation on poker.  3-7 players.  Initial deal is five cards to each player.  The game is exactly like five card draw except you are trying to get the worst hand.  The rank of the hands are the same as standard version of poker except that the lowest hand wins.  This is a good game to break up the monotony of regular poker.

Pai Gow Poker
Pai Gow Poker is the fusion of American Poker and the ancient Chinese dominos game of Pai Gow. Played with a standard 52-card deck and 1 wild card, the objective of the game is to assemble two hands of cards that rank higher than the banker's two hands.

The player is dealt 7 cards that are arranged into two hands: five-card hand and a two-card hand. The five-card hand is put in the same hierarchy as standard poker hands. The two-card hand can either be a pair or not. The highest two-card hand is Aces; the highest five-card hand is a royal flush. However you need to keep in mind that because of the wild card it is possible to have five Aces, which ranks higher than a royal flush. The five-card hand has to rate higher than the two-card hand.

Once the player arranges the two hands, the banker will split his/her hands and the game will play itself out. The player wins when both of his\her hands are rated higher than the bankers. The banker wins all tie results. If the player has only one hand that is ranked higher than the banker, then a "push" happens and no money is exchanged; however, if the banker has one winning hand and the other one is a draw, the banker wins.

Wild Card
The wild card (i.e. joker card) does not follow the full definition of a wild card. It's restricted from forming a pair of 10's or Queens. You can only use it as an Ace or as the fifth card to complete a straight or any type of flush.

Winning players receive even money (1 to 1). Since the odds of winning at this game are so high, there is a 2% commission on all of the player winnings. Therefore, your actual winnings are 98%. No commission is collected on losing hands or ties.

Progressive Payout
A progressive jackpot is paid out if any 5 cards of the 7 cards you are dealt make up a royal flush. It doesn't matter if you organize them that way or not.

Other popular variations of Poker are Texas Hold Em' Poker    Omaha Poker                    
To learn more about Hold Em', Click Here

Free Rules for Poker
The game of Poker is a seemingly simple game that is enjoyed by many people.  I say seemingly because if it was as easy as it looks,  we would all quit our jobs and become professional poker players.  But the art of playing poker and playing it well is a lot more difficult than it seems because of bluffing.  If you want to be a good poker player, you're going to have to learn how to bluff and to tell when your opponent is bluffing.
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