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Poker Rules: how to learn to play poker

Instruction for a poker play

All poker players at the dawn of their career, just like you, were wondering: "How to play poker?".

Today we will tell you the rules of the Texas poker game. After that, you'll enter into more sophisticated stuff: learning strategies, types of players, math and poker psychology. The most interesting things await you ahead.

A lot of sites offer different materials on poker theme. Here you will find a full and accessible explanation of all the rules and aspects of poker games as well as tips for improving skills.

To unravel poker terms incomprehensible for beginners that will occur in the text, our dictionary will come useful for you.

For those who don't like reading (who can't/don't want, etc.) we suggest exploring the video for beginners "rules of poker game":

Now let's finally figure out the classical poker game rules which are relevant for offline and online poker. By classical we mean poker, in which five cards lie on the board and each player have two cards. For the first time these rules were established at the beginning of the 20th century in Texas where the name of this legendary game has come from.

In poker several people play at the same table (minimum two, max ten). They play with a standard 52 card deck.

The goal of the game is to get as many chips/money as possible; lose as little as possible. Meanwhile the number of hands is not limited.

During the game the player has the right to leave the table, thus the game will continue, the cards won't be dealt to him only in the cash games. In tournaments, if the player has left, he still must post blinds/ante and his cards will be automatically sending to the muck.

Duration of the game

In tournament poker, the game will go on until the winners are determined. In cash games everyone plays as long as he wishes.

How many cards are dealt in poker?

Everyone is dealt two cards. No one sees these cards except those who hold them. Then five common cards fall on the board, in such a way: three of them are dealt first and then fourth and fifth card one by one.

To understand how to play poker, first of all you need to remember the combinations and their seniority:

  1. Royal Flush, also known as Royal Street Flush or Flush Royal, is the highest and the rarest combination in poker which consists of 5 cards of the same suit from 10 to Ace (in other words - it is the highest straight-flush or the highest straight of the same suit)
  2. Straight-flush - a combination of 5 suited cards in sequence or in other words - a suited straight.
  3. Quads (Four of a kind) - 4 cards of the same rank (for example, A ♥ A ♠ A ♣ A ♦, 6 ♦ 6 ♣ 6 ♠ 6 ♥, Q ♥ Q ♦ Q ♣ Q ♠, etc.).
  4. Full House - a combination formed by one rank pair and a triple of another rank at the same time (a pair + set in one combination). The seniority of Full House is determined by three identical cards that it includes.
  5. Flush - 5 cards of the same suit.
  6. Straight - 5 cards in sequence (for example, 2-3-4-5-6 or 5-6-7-8-9 or 9-10-J-Q-K).
  7. Set / Triple/ Trips (Three of a kind) - 3 cards of the same rank.
  8. Two pairs - a combination which contains 2 pairs of cards of the same rank simultaneously.
  9. Pair is two cards of the same rank (identical cards of different suits).
  10. High card is the weakest hand. If the player doesn't have any of the above combinations, his combination is the top card, which is determined to be the highest card of the rank in the player's card set. If several players don't have any combination - the winner is determined by the highest card.
  11. It is also worth considering a Kicker - this is a card which is not included into the poker combination but determines the winner in case the players have equal hands. For example, one player has AQ, another has A10 and the board is A-J-8-2-J. Both players have a combination of two pairs (AA-JJ) but the first one has a kicker Q and the second has 10, so the first player wins the hand. If there was K on the board instead of 8 or 2, it would be a kicker for both players and then they would split the pot.

More details about poker combinations

The rules of poker are easy to learn if you know the precedence of the cards and the actions available to players on each street, namely:

  • Bet - to make a bet
  • Call - to call a bet, i.e to put the same amount as the opponent or opponents put in the pot
  • Raise - to increase a bet (to put more than the previous player / players)
  • Fold - to fold the cards to the muck and refuse to continue participating in the hand
  • Check or skip - is an action available for the player when he has already placed a bet and in situations where no one has raised it before. This action implies that you do not add chips to the pot. There are forced bets on the preflop (blinds) which need to be called in order to remain in the game. On the other streets if all players check you will have the opportunity to open the next card of the board for free.
  • Reraise - increasing the bet after the raise
  • 3-bet - raising the previous bet

Before the cards start to be dealt, two players to the left of the button post the blinds. The first of them posts the small blind, the second one posts the big blind which is usually equal two small blinds.

For example, you play poker with blinds 1/2 $. The small blind puts $1, and the big blind puts $2. The big blind is usually denoted with abbreviation BB, small - SB.

BB and SB in poker

Forced bets are needed in order to speed up the pace of the game and to involve players into the fight for the pot, otherwise players will just sit and wait for the perfect pocket pair.

The poker hand consists of 4 betting rounds. The first round (preflop) comes along after two cards are dealt to each player. Then 3 cards fall on the board – and the second round is on (flop). Later one more card is put on the board - again the betting round is on (turn) and then another one after which players can make their bets for the last time (river).

So, let's look at each of the rounds.


Preflop in poker

Pocket cards are dealt to all players. After that they are betting. What are the options for the act?

  1. Fold the cards (without losing chips); the cards are thrown into the muck facedown so that no one sees them.
  2. Accept a minimum bet of $2 - this action is called "call".
  3. Raise the bet (a minimum raise is one big blind, i.e the player calls the initial bet while doing the raise on pre-flop – call of 2$ + puts a bet of $2, in total the player has put $ 4).

Action on preflop

The player who sits to the left of BB acts first. This position is called Early Position or UTG. The SB and BB act the last. The small blind can do:

  1. Fold, losing bet of 1$.
  2. Call – match the bet (either BB or one of the players’ bet).
  3. Raise.

The big blind, since he has already placed 2$ - a forced bet, can do:

  1. Check (as he has already put the blind) - in this case the betting ends, the flop is being dealt (further about it).
  2. Call, if someone has raised before him.
  3. Fold (it is not recommended to fold if you can check). If someone raises, the rest need either to call or to fold or to reraise optionally. The minimum raise is one blind (in our case - $2).

If someone raises the bet in one round, in the same round the other one can put at least twice as much as the previous player.

Exception: on the preflop you don’t need to raise twice as much as was the previous bet. After the first raise a player can reraise just by one BB more if he wants to. The betting ends when everyone has made the action. The player gets the pot if no one calls his bet/raise. He can show the cards he's played with but that's not necessary.


Onward 3 cards are put face up on the board - the flop. Then the betting follows: except the options to act that were used in the first round, players get the possibility to just check and then the next player will act.

An important detail: in all rounds, except preflop, the small blind acts first.

Flop in poker

Turn, river

After everyone made the action, the fourth card falls on the board – the turn.

Then the last card is put - the river.

Turn in poker

Showdown – opening the cards and comparison of the combinations

Pocket cards are being turned face up for comparing the combinations after the river. Showdown also comes when all of the remaining participants of the hand go all-in. In that case, the missing cards are being placed on the board (in order to be five cards) and the combinations are being compared. The best one wins.

River in poker

What else do you need to know about Texas Hold'em?

By the way of raising the bets:

  • No-limit (Unlimited) - the maximum size of the bet is equal to the size of the player's stack; the most common format in the world.
  • Limit (Limited) - the maximum size of the bet is limited. This is safer kind of poker for your bankroll, because you don’t risk losing the entire stack at once.

By the way of the game:

  • Tournament – the players pay buy-in (a tournament fee) and compete for the prizes.
  • Cash games - the game is played for cash (which is being exchanged for chips first).

In the casino the role of the dealer is performed by a specially trained person who doesn’t participate in the game, the dealer or croupier. In other cases, it is accepted that the player on a dealer position will deal the cards (hereinafter - the Dealer) but it is not a strict rule – anyone can deal the cards. In online poker rooms the cards are shuffled using a special equipment where the RNG plays a key role.

If you’ve managed to figure out the rules and learn the combinations, then you are ready to start the first in your life round of an addictive hold'em.

Do not forget to observe the rules of bankroll management in order the game not to cause the financial troubles.

It is very easy to learn the poker rules for beginners. And you probably already ask yourself the question: "How much is it possible to earn on poker?".

We’ve prepared for you relevant material where we’ve described in detail the strategies and methods of getting the income. In the "Poker School" section you will find a useful information on how to play poker properly so that it brings you profit and pleasure.

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