Are you interested in understanding poker rules and learning how to play poker? Whether you’re planning a friendly game with friends or diving into online play solo, you’ve come to the right place. Poker, an engaging mix of luck, skill, and strategy, enjoys worldwide popularity. Among its many variants, Texas Hold’em holds a special place due to its wide appeal and comparatively simple rules.

Poker Rules of several variants – most popular types

Basic knowledge: Poker rules simply explained

What is the highest hand in poker?

Before diving into the actual gameplay, it’s crucial to familiarize oneself with poker hands and their rankings. Understanding the hierarchy of poker hands is fundamental to the game, as the objective is to assemble the best possible five-card hand at the end of a round.

Starting from the highest, the order of poker hands is as follows: Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, One Pair, and High Card.

Having a firm grasp of this ranking system will allow you to make informed decisions about whether to fold, bet, or raise, ultimately enhancing your overall poker strategy and success.

Dealing of the cards

Texas Hold’em rules state that the dealer deals each player two cards, known as “Hole Cards,” and the players keep them secret in their hand. The dealer places five community cards, known as “Board Cards,” on the table, which are visible to everyone.

Players aim to create the best possible hand using both their hole cards and the five dealer’s cards. The dealer initially reveals only three of their five cards, and reveals one more card in subsequent rounds.

The game requires at least two players, but there are different game setups that limit the number of participants.

The table positions in poker – Who starts?

Poker Table Positions Full Ring (9 max)

As per the rules of poker, the starting positions, referred to as Small Blind and Big Blind, are situated to the dealer’s left (Dealer). These positions act first following the Flop. The positions to the right of the Dealer Button are the later positions, which act last. The seats between these positions are referred to as the middle positions.

Every player essentially has the following playing options:

  • Check: If no bet has been made in the round, the player may choose to refrain from betting in that round.
  • Bet: If no bet has been placed, the player may make a bet. The other players must match this bet to stay in the round.
  • Call : If a bet has been made in a round, the player may call to match it.
  • Raise: If a bet has already been made in the round, the player may raise it. The player must place at least the highest bet and add an additional amount.
  • Fold: A player who folds their cards can no longer participate in the ongoing round.

Individual rounds of a poker game

First Betting Round (Preflop) – Who Starts?

The first betting round, also known as the Preflop, is initiated by the player to the left of the Big Blind. After all players receive their cards, they, in clockwise order, now have the option to fold (discard their cards), call (match the current bet), or raise (increase the bet). The first player has the option to check, regardless of how much has already been bet. Every subsequent player can choose to either check or raise the bet.

For insights on which cards you should play, read our article on the best Texas Hold’em poker starting hands.

The Flop

The first three face-up community cards are called the Flop. Following the Flop, players can perform the following moves: check, bet, fold, or raise.

The Turn

Players’ options after the fourth card appears are the same as in the previous Flop round. They can check (make no bet), fold (quit the game), raise (increase the bet), or place a bet.

The River

The final community card is revealed. Now, players must decide whether their cards form a high-ranking hand that could lead to victory. If not, how many other players are only checking without raising? Is it worth bluffing to get other players to fold?

The Showdown – Who Wins?

Two players are left. They show their cards on the table. The winner is the player with the best hand. If you need a reminder, look at our poker hand ranking pictures again.

Poker rules hands ranking

In addition to the general poker rules for beginners, it is important to understand the best possible poker hands or card combinations. Here is an illustration in descending order:

  • Royal Flush: The Royal Flush is the ultimate straight flush of cards: A♥ K♥ Q♥ J♥ 10♥ and thus the strongest hand.
  • Straight Flush: A Straight Flush consists of 5 cards of the same suit, which are arranged in sequence: J♥ 10♥ 9♥ 8♥ 7♥.
  • Four of a Kind: A Four of a Kind consists of four cards of the same rank: J♣ J♠ J♦ J♥ Q♥. The fifth card in this hand is called the kicker.
  • Full House: A Full House consists of three cards of one rank and two cards of another: 4♣ 4♠ 4♦ 5♣ 5♥.
  • Flush: A Flush consists of five cards of the same suit that are not arranged in sequence: A♣ J♣ 7♣ 6♣ 2♣.
  • Straight: A Straight consists of five consecutive cards that are not of the same suit: 9♣ 8♠ 7♠ 6♥ 5♥.
  • Three of a Kind: A Three of a Kind contains three cards of the same rank: 3♦ 3♠ 3♣ Q♠ 6♥.
  • Two Pairs: This hand consists of two identical cards of one value and two identical cards of another value: 10♥ 10♣ 3♣ 3♠ 9♥.
  • One Pair: A pair simply consists of two cards of the same value: 7♥ 7♠ K♠ 10♦ 5♠.
  • High Card: The highest cards in a hand, without holding at least one pair.
The Ranking of Poker Hands

Strategic poker tips – ways to win

Should I raise the bet?

In a game of poker or any other type of gambling game, when a player has a good hand, it is often advised to raise the bet. This means that the player should increase the amount of money or chips they are willing to wager for that particular round.

Having a good hand refers to having a set of cards that are considered to be strong or competitive compared to the other players’ hands. This could mean having a high-value pair, a straight, a flush, or even a full house. The strength of a hand is determined by the rules of the specific game being played.

By raising the bet, the player is trying to convey confidence in their hand and potentially intimidate their opponents into folding. It is a strategic move that can be used to both increase potential winnings and force weaker hands to fold, minimizing the risk of losing.

When should i fold?

Deciding when to fold in poker depends on various factors like your position, the type of opponents, your hand, and the state of the game. Here are some key scenarios when you should consider folding:

  1. Weak Starting Hand: This is one of the most common reasons to fold. If your starting hand is weak and doesn’t have much potential for improvement (like a 2 and 7 offsuit in Texas Hold’em), it’s often best to fold.
  2. Following the Flop: If the flop doesn’t improve your hand or provide potential for a strong hand (like a straight or flush), and there’s strong betting or raising action, it might be wise to fold.
  3. Facing a Raise or Re-raise: If you’ve made a bet and someone raises or re-raises, especially a player who’s typically conservative, it often signals a strong hand. Unless you also have a strong hand or potential to make one, it might be time to fold.
  4. After the Turn or River: If you’ve stayed in the hand hoping specific cards would appear on the turn or the river and they don’t show, you should consider folding, especially if there’s a lot of betting action.
  5. Large Pot with a Mediocre Hand: If you’re sitting with a mediocre hand and the pot has grown large due to heavy betting, it may be better to fold rather than risk more chips on a losing hand.
  6. Out of Position: If you’re the first to act or early in the betting order, and you don’t have a strong hand, it might be wiser to fold and wait until you have a better position.
  7. When the Odds Aren’t in Your Favor: It’s important to understand pot odds—the ratio of the current size of the pot to the cost of a contemplated call. If the pot odds aren’t favorable, you should consider folding.
  8. Trying to Stop a Bleed: If you’ve lost a few hands in a row and you’re feeling tilted (emotionally upset), it might be a good time to fold and take a break to regain composure.

Remember, folding is not a sign of weakness but a sign of a disciplined and strategic player. It’s often said that knowing when to fold is what separates the good players from the bad players. It’s a key aspect of managing your bankroll and staying in the game.

How to read a pokerface

Reading a poker face, which is not possible in online poker, also known as deciphering someone’s “tells”, can give you an advantage in poker by providing insights into their hand and their strategy. Here are some tips on how to read poker faces:

  1. Observe their baseline behavior: When you first sit down at the table, take a moment to observe how each player behaves when they’re not in a hand. This will give you a baseline for their normal behavior, making it easier to spot when they deviate from it.
  2. Watch their eyes: Some players can’t help but glance quickly at their chips when they receive a good hand. Others may look away or attempt to appear uninterested when they have a strong hand, in an effort to deceive other players.
  3. Pay attention to body language: Body language can reveal a lot. Players with strong hands might sit up straighter or appear more relaxed. Those with weak hands might show signs of nervousness, like fidgeting or tension.
  4. Look for changes in their betting patterns: If a player suddenly starts betting more aggressively or becomes unusually passive, this could be a tell. Be aware though, experienced players may use deceptive betting patterns to trick you.
  5. Monitor their conversation: Some players become more talkative when they have a good hand, while others might go quiet. Changes in the amount or tone of a player’s conversation can be a tell.
  6. Pay attention to physical ‘tells’: Shaking hands can indicate a strong hand, as adrenaline levels spike. Similarly, a player who’s bluffing might show signs of stress, such as sweating or a change in their voice.
  7. Remember, tells can be deceptive: Experienced players are aware of tells and may try to fake them to throw you off. Always consider the context and don’t rely on tells alone to make your decisions.

Learning to read poker faces can give you an advantage, but it’s also important to focus on the cards, the odds, and your opponents’ betting patterns. And remember, practice makes perfect – the more you play, the better you’ll become at reading other players.

Official poker rules of individual associations

Official TDA Poker Tournament Rules

The Tournament Directors Association (TDA) was founded in 2001 to standardize poker tournament rules globally. TDA organizes summits to discuss and vote on rules changes. For specific rule details, refer to TDA’s official website or their latest rules version. Remember, casinos and poker rooms might have variations or house rules that deviate from TDA rules. It’s crucial to understand the rules of any tournament you join.

The Rules of the International Poker Federation (FIDPA)

FIDPA’s “International Poker Rules” aim for universal applicability, ensuring consistent player experiences. These rules emphasize integrity, fairness, and respect. Players are responsible for safeguarding their cards, understanding ongoing action, and maintaining proper gameplay sequence. An unwritten code of conduct exists. Game procedures ensure transparency and consistency, from buy-ins to cash outs. Rules cover card handling, betting mechanics, play progression, and pot award criteria, removing ambiguity. Tournament staff, guided by specific standards, ensure game credibility. Technical game details, like chip values, card deck specifications, and button rotations, are clearly defined. FIDPA’s rules ensure standardized gameplay everywhere.

Consequences for breaking rules at official poker tournaments

Breaking rules at official poker tournaments can result in varied consequences. Minor violations might get a verbal warning. Continuous or serious violations can lead to time penalties, or even chip deductions. Cheating or aggressive behavior can lead to disqualification or bans from future events.

Frequently asked questions and answers

Depending on which particular poker variant there are differences between this or that format, but learning the poker rules is actually very easy and can be done in literally minutes! In the words of the late great Mike Sexton ‘Poker takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master…’

There are a number of different variants. YPD has partnered with online poker providers who host a variety of games, giving poker fans a chance to enjoy more than the usual No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha fare.

Of course this is possible, but we recommend that you start initially either with Play money or at very low – ‘micro’ – limits, rather than put the safety of your bankroll in jeopardy. It takes time and effort to become a good player, so learn how to play, get acquainted with the fundamentals and, gradually, the ins and outs of the game, and see what the Poker Gods have in store…

Absolutely not! Poker is merely a card game, and understanding its gameplay, including the betting mechanics and such, is actually quite straightforward.

It’s your choice, but Texas Hold’em (specifically the No Limit version) is the most popular and highly regarded form of poker. It’s a good starting point because it’s widely played worldwide. The next popular variant is Pot Limit Omaha, which is known for being even more aggressive and intense than NLH. In this game, each player gets four hole cards instead of two.

last updated 19.12.2023