Poker Rules: how to learn to play poker
Poker rules (rules for Texas poker) contain information about the game in the most popular poker type, which includes its description, list and order of actions at the table, the ranking of poker combinations, as well as information on how to determine the winner and share the pot.
After reading this article, you can easily play poker and explain the rules to others. All you need for successful play is carefully study the material on this page. We tried to explain how to play poker as accessible as possible, with pictures, video and examples.
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. If you encounter incomprehensible poker terms for beginners, we offer you use our poker dictionary.
For those who don’t like to read text (or you cannot/ doesn’t want, etc.), we suggest studying poker rules for beginners in a video format:
So, let's finally study the rules of classiс poker game that are relevant for offline and online poker. By the term "classic poker" we mean the game with five cards on the table and 2 cards for each player. 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.
How to play poker: instruction for beginners
In poker, several participants play at the same table (minimum two, max ten). The game is carried out with a standard 52 card deck.
The goal of game is to get as many chips/money as possible; lose as little as possible. Meanwhile, the number of hands is unlimited.
The player is able to leave the table during the game, but the game will continue and the cards won't be dealt to him only in the cash games. In tournaments, if the player has suspended his play, he is obliged to post the blinds/ante and his cards will be automatically sent to the muck.
In tournament poker, the game will last 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 the five common cards come on the board in the following way: three of them are dealt first, but the fourth and fifth card - one by one.
To understand how to play poker, first of all you need to remember the combinations and their ranking:
- Royal Flush. It is also known as Royal Street Flush or Flush Royal, which means the highest and the rarest combination in poker. It consists of 5 cards of the same suit from 10 to Ace (in other words - this is the highest straight-flush or the highest straight of the same suit).
- Straight-flush. This is a combination of 5 suited cards in sequence or in other words - a suited straight.
- Quads (Four of a kind). This means 4 cards of the same rank (for example, A ♥ A ♠ A ♣ A ♦, 6 ♦ 6 ♣ 6 ♠ 6 ♥, Q ♥ Q ♦ Q ♣ Q ♠, etc.).
- Full House. This is a combination formed by one rank pair and a triple of another rank at the same time (a pair + set in one combination). The ranking of Full House is determined by three identical cards.
- Flush. This combination means 5 cards of the same suit.
- Straight is a hand of 5 cards in sequence (for example, 2-3-4-5-6 or 5-6-7-8-9 or 9-10-J-Q-K).
- Set / Triple/ Trips (Three of a kind) - 3 cards of the same rank.
- Two pairs. This is a combination that contains 2 pairs of cards of the same rank simultaneously.
- Pair is two cards of the same rank (identical cards of different suits).
- 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, then the winner is determined by the highest card.
- It is also worth considering a Kicker. This is a card that is not included into the poker combination, but it determines the winner in case if the players have equal hands. For example, one player has AQ, another - 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 one - 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.
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/ opponents invest in the pot;
- Raise – to increase a bet (to put more than the previous player/ players);
- Fold – to send the cards to the muck and refuse to continue participating in 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 don't 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
Forced bets - big blind and small blind
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 the small blinds.
For example, you play poker with blinds 1/2 $. The small blind puts $1, and the big blind - $2. The big blind is usually denoted with abbreviation BB, small - SB.
Forced bets are needed to speed up the pace of the game and attract the players into the fight for pot, otherwise the 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 appear on the board, and the second round begins (flop). Then, one more card is dealt on the table and the betting round (turn) starts again. After that, another card appear and the players can make their last bets (river).
So, let's look at each of the rounds.
Pocket cards are dealt to all players. After that, the participants make their decisions (bets). What are the options for the act?
- Fold the cards (without losing chips); the cards are sent to the muck facedown, so no one sees them.
- Accept a minimum bet of $2 - this action is called "call".
- Raise the bet (a minimum raise is one big blind, i.e the player calls the initial bet of 2$ + makes a $2 bet, so in total the player makes a $4 bet).
The player who sits to the left of BB acts first. This position is called Early Position or UTG. SB and BB act the last. Small blind can do the following:
- Fold, losing bet of 1$.
- Call – match the bet (either BB, or one of the players’ bet).
Since BB has already made a forced bet of $2, he can do the following:
- Check (as he has already paid the blind), in this case the betting round ends, and flop starts (further about it).
- Call, if someone has raised before him.
- Fold (it is not recommended to fold if you can check). If someone raises, the others need either to call or fold/ re-raise, optionally. The minimum raise is one blind (in our case - $2).
If someone raises the bet in one round, then the other one can bet at least twice as much as the previous player in the same round.
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.
After everyone made the action, the fourth card falls on the board – the turn.
Then the last card is put - the river.
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.
What else do you need to know about Texas Hold'em?
The formats of the game
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 a 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).
Who deals the cards?
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 special equipment where the RNG plays a key role.
How to learn to play poker in 5 minutes
You can learn poker endlessly, just like in the case of many other things. However, if you want to learn the basics and you need the shortest poker rules for beginners, then we offer you to get acquainted with the information listed below.
Just in case, it should be noted that rules of classic poker refer to Texas Hold'em discipline.
Three basic poker rules that are worth remembering:
- All players are dealt two cards. These are your pocket cards (your hand) and you're not allowed to show them to anyone.
- The winner is considered the player who forces everyone to fold, or the player with the strongest combination after showdown (this happens after the river or when several players go all-in).
- Combinations are formed from 5 cards. For this, you can use all 5 cards on the table, 4 cards from the table and 1 from your hand, 3 cards from the table and 2 ones from your hand.
These are the three most important poker rules. In addition to these rules, it is important to know the ranking of combinations (you can just print the picture like a cheat sheet) and a couple of basic terms:
- Hand means pocket cards that you are dealt at the very beginning of game.
- Blinds are mandatory bets that are posted in turn by the players in the respective positions.
- Pot means the number of chips that the players invested during the hand. The winner of pot is considered the player with the best combination or participant who has remained the last in the game with cards.
- Stack means the total number of chips for one player (this is his stack).
Streets (betting rounds):
- Flop means the first three community cards on the table.
- Turn means the fourth community card on the table.
- River means the fifth community card on the table.
- Check. If no one raised, the player can say “Check” or, in other words, check and continue to play without investing chips in the pot.
- Call. Equalization of the previous bet.
- Raise. It means to increase the bet.
- Fold. This term applies to the player who stops participating in hand and pretend to the pot.
- All-in means that you put all your chips in the pot.
Much depends on the number of participants at the table. Usually, from two (heads-up) to 10 (full ring) players gather at one table. There are often 3-max, 6-max, 8-max and 9-max tables, so the maximum number of participants at these tables is 3, 6, 8 and 9, respectively.
Briefly about bets and betting rounds
If you want to continue playing, you need to invest some chips in the pot during each betting round. You should pay the same amount as the player (players) in front of you, or more.
Who is the first to act in hand?
The bets are placed in a clockwise, starting from the player on a small blind.
The first betting round takes place after everyone is dealt 2 cards face-down. Then, the act of betting occurs three more times: after the first 3 community cards appear on the table (flop), and alternately after each of the next two community cards are dealt face up (turn and river). In total, there are 4 betting rounds.
The poker game ends when everyone folds and one player remains in the game (the remaining player becomes the winner). The game can end after the river: everyone who remains in the game shows his cards and the winner is considered the player with the strongest hand. In some cases, you are able not to show your cards on the river, however, this is a separate story and you don’t need to know this at the initial stage.
These are the poker rules for newbies or the most basic principle of poker.
However, there is no simple theoretical instruction for poker game, all knowledge is obtained and quickly acquired during the game process.
If you have managed to learn poker rules and its combinations, then you're ready to start playing Hold'em.
Don't forget to observe the rules of bankroll management in order the game not to cause 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 useful information on how to play poker properly so that it brings you profit and pleasure.
Add this page to your tabs so that the rules of poker are always at a hand.
Do not forget that no-limit Texas Hold'em, although it is the most popular type of poker in the world, is not the only one. You can also explore other types of poker such as Chinese Poker, Omaha, Razz and many more. Perhaps one of these disciplines will become the main one for you and will bring you success.