How to play poker

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Texas Holdem

Texas Hold'em Poker is a community card game that can be played with anywhere from 2-10 players.

Play always moves clockwise and starts with the players seated after the dealer button (typically represented by a plastic disk). The two players to the left of the 'dealer' must post a big blind and small blind respectively. The blind is a bet that is made without players having seen, or even been dealt their cards. This is done to commence betting and build the pot. Player's hole cards are then dealt (face down), with the player to the left of the big blind opening betting proceedings.

Call, Raise or Fold

At this time, players can either call (match the amount of the big blind), raise (increase the bet to a given amount) or fold (return their cards to the dealer and have no more play in this round). Play moves clockwise until all players have placed/matched an equal amount into the pot, or have folded. Once play is complete, the community cards are dealt.

The Flop

In Texas Holdem three cards are then dealt, face up and players can make their strongest hand using any combination of the community cards and their hole cards. Another round of betting commences.

Check, Raise or Fold

In this (and subsequent) rounds of betting, players can check (effectively make a bet of zero; staying in the pot), raise or fold. Naturally if a player has raised, the following player cannot check, so can either call, raise or fold. After a round of betting another community card is dealt.

The Turn

After the forth community card is dealt, another round of betting commences. Players can once again, check (if no one has opened the betting), call, raise or fold. After a round of betting is complete a final community card is dealt.

The River

After the fifth and final community card is dealt a final round of betting commences. Once again, players can check, call (if betting has opened), raise or fold.

The Showdown

If, after the final round of betting after the river, there are two or more people left in the pot, all players must declare their hand and show their cards. The player with the strongest hand using the five strongest cards available wins the pot. After the showdown, the cards are collected, the dealer button, big and small blinds move one seating position clockwise and the players now on the big and small blinds must make their forced bets. Then the cards are shuffled and dealt for another hand.

If at any time throughout any of the rounds of betting, all players fold leaving only one remaining, then the remaining player wins the pot and does not have to show his/her winning hand.

Poker hand ranking

Almost every style of poker uses a standard single 52 card deck, although the majority of games remove the jokers from play. The hand ranking for Texas Holdem is as follows:

Royal Flush

The best possible hand in Texas Holdem Ten, Jack, Queen, King, Ace (same suit) [10-Hearts] [J-Hearts] [Q-Hearts] [K-Hearts] [A-Hearts]

Straight Flush

Five cards of the same suit and in sequential order 9, Ten, Jack, Queen, King, Ace (same suit) [9-Spades] [10-Spades] [J-Spades] [Q-Spades] [K-Spades] Ace, two, three four five (same suit) [A-Diamonds] [2-Diamonds] [3-Diamonds] [4-Diamonds] [5-Diamonds]

Four of a kind

Any four numerically matching cards [7-Clubs] [7-Spades] [7-Hearts] [7-Diamonds]

Full House

Three of a kind and a pair in the same hand A, A, A, Q, Q ('Aces full of Queens') [A-Clubs] [A-Diamonds] [A-Hearts] [Q-Hearts] [Q-Spades]


Five cards of the same suit, in any order [5-Diamonds] [7-Diamonds] [Q-Diamonds] [A-Diamonds] [2-Diamonds]


Five cards, of any suit, in sequential order [4-Spades] [5-Clubs] [6-Hearts] [7-Diamonds] [8-Clubs]

Three of a kind

Any three numerically matching cards [Q-Clubs] [Q-Hearts] [Q-Diamonds]

Two Pair

Two different pairs in the same hand [A-Hearts] [A-Spades] [K-Clubs] [K-Diamonds]


Any two numerically matching cards [2-Clubs] [2-Diamonds]

High Card

The highest ranked card in your hand Ace being the highest and 2 being the lowest

Rules Of Five Card Draw Poker

Five card draw, the game played by 19th Century riverboat gamblers and cowboys, is experiencing a resurgence.

The game can be found at a variety of online poker sites and perhaps even at your local home game. If you've never played five card draw before, or if you're a little hazy on the rules, here's a refresher.

Beginning the Game in Five Card Draw

The game begins with the player to the left of the dealer putting in some fraction, usually half, of a bet, called the small blind. The player to his left then puts in a full bet, called a big blind. Each player then receives five cards. The objective is to make your best five-card poker hand. Proceeding clockwise from the big blind, players have the option to either call, raise or fold. Once the action goes around the table, the big blind has the option to check or raise, or call, raise or fold if there has been a raise already.

The Draw in Five Card Draw

Starting to the left of the dealer ("the button") players now discard as many cards as they wish. Once all players have discarded and received replacements for their discards, there is another round of betting. When all players have called all bets or folded, there is a showdown and the best five card hand wins the pot.

Variations of Five Card Draw

In some five card draw variations, players all ante instead of putting up blinds. In these games, a player is usually required to have at least a pair of jacks in his hand before he can bet at the pot. If all players decline to bet, players muck their cards, re-ante and receive a new deal.

Omaha Poker

Popular in Europe for years, Omaha poker is rapidly gaining fans worldwide over the last few years and now sits comfortably as the second-most played poker variation in the world.

The newfound lust for Omaha can be attributed to a couple of things: For one, there's a natural similarity in the rules to Texas Hold'em, making the switch over an easy one for most players.

Second, and likely the biggest draw, is the game's all-out action. Unlike Holdem, Omaha players are much more inclined to make and call more bets and to play more hands to completion.

This increased action can make the game incredibly exciting and infinitely more interesting to both beginners and professionals alike.

There are only two differences between Hold'em and Omaha:

  • Every player is dealt four cards in Omaha (instead of two in Hold'em)
  • There are more rules for evaluating the winning hand at showdown.

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