Poker rules

The dealer deals cards on the playing table

Poker is getting more and more popular around the world. No wonder, because it's not just a card game.

It requires not only knowledge of combinations and rules, but also an awareness of your opponent’s psychology. Sometimes a lucky bluff can decide the result of a game. It can be said that poker is not about cards, it's about people.

It can take years to reach mastery of the game. But first, you need to know what types of poker exist and get familiar with the fundamentals of poker rules.

Types of poker

The history of poker began 400 years ago in America. That's when the rules of classical poker began to be formed. Later on, as the game evolved and spread around the world, new types of poker were invented.

There are many different types of poker now. Some can be found in the professional arena, others only when playing at home or in casinos.

Let's have a look at the general rules of poker for beginners and a closer look at some of the types.

Poker: the rules of the game for beginners with pictures

Every player, when sitting down at the table, has two goals:

  • To put together a strong combination.
  • To win the pot

With these goals in mind, we’ll go over the fundamentals of the poker world's rules and terminology.


The list of poker terms is huge. There are individual books written about it, and it can take a long time to sort through. But it's a good idea to get familiar with the fundamentals first and then learn something new as the game progresses.

In the beginning, the names will be unfamiliar, because they come from the English language. The fundamentals need to be learned and built up as you play the games:

  • Ante — a mandatory stake in a tournament or casino game.
  • Pot — the chips that are involved in a hand. Consists of the players' stakes.
  • Bet — the first stake in a Betting Round.
  • Blind — Small and Large stakes. These are the mandatory stakes placed by the players before the start of the hand. After each hand, the blinds move clockwise. They are there to make sure there is always some money at the table and that players do not get in for free.
  • Wah-bank, all-in — a stake of all the chips a player has.
  • Hand — cards held by a player. It can gain or lose power as the game progresses.

Decks in poker

Three different decks are used for the game (36, 52, and 54 cards). Each has its characteristics, but in modern poker, a 52-card deck is commonly used.

Poker combinations

If you type in “poker card game rules” or “poker game how to play” on the internet, you will immediately come across that any website will talk about card combinations. Indeed, combinations in poker are the basis on which the game is built.

They are often intimidating to the beginner, but it’s not hard to get a handle on them. The main rule is that a combination always consists of five cards. At the same time, combinations are ranked by power. That is, if two combinations are possible, the higher one is played.

Combinations by precedence:

  1. Flush royal — is five consecutive cards from a ten to an ace of the same suit. A very rare and desirable combination.
  2. Straight flush — also consisting of five cards of the same suit in a row. Roughly speaking, a flush royal is a high-ranking straight flush.
  3. Quads—  four cards of the same rank and the fifth card is any card. For example 4 kings and a six of any suit.
  4. Full house —  three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank. For example three jacks and two queens.
  5. Flush — any five cards of the same suit.
  6. Straight -— five consecutive cards of any suit.
  7. Set -— three cards of the same rank and two other cards.
  8. Two Pairs — two pairs of cards of the same rank and any card of the deck.
  9. Pair — two cards of the same rank and three any cards of the deck.
  10. High card —  is considered if no combination can be made

There is also such a thing as a kicker. This is used when players have exactly the same combination. A kicker is the highest card of a five that wasn't part of the main combination. For example, you and your opponent have a pair of aces. But you still have a king, and your opponent has a queen. You win the kicker because the king is higher than the queen.

Classical poker: rules for beginners

Traditionally, classical poker is considered to be Texas Hold’em. It’s the simplest and most common type of poker. Here, players compete only against each other, with the winner of the best hand taking the pot.

At the beginning of a game, the dealer hands all the players two (Pocket) cards, and the blinds are put. This is when the first part of the game (Preflop) starts. The player following the big blind assesses his hand and if he decides to continue the game, he makes a bet. If the player decides the hand is weak, he folds. The same principle applies to everyone at the table. This stage continues until the bets are even.

Next, the dealer collects all the stakes and sends them to the pot. And hands out the first three common cards. They are laid out on the table in the open. The players again evaluate their hands and the bidding round begins. The player can increase his previous bet at this stage (Raise), make his first stake (Bet), call (Call), not bet if there are no chips on the table at this stage (Check), and fold (Pass). This phase of the game is called the flop and when it's over (all bets are called) the dealer also puts all the chips in the pot.

Then the turn comes. This is the fourth common card and the bidding starts in the same manner as on the flop.

The fourth leg is the river. The fifth hole card is dealt. Final bidding begins. This may result in a situation where all players have passed and only one player remains. He will be the winner and win the total pot. He does not have to show his cards.

But if more than one player remains after the bidding stage, the final stage, showdown, begins. Here the rest of the players open their cards and compare the combinations. It should be noted that only the first player is required to show up, and the following players can show up without opening their cards.

After that a new hand starts, the blinds move clockwise by one player. That means the big blind becomes the small blind and the next player gets the big blind.

During cash games (games directly for money) a player can leave the table at any time. In tournaments, however, the player must remain at the table until the end of the tournament and bet the blinds.

Other types of poker

As we’ve said before, there are many types of poker in the world. Each has its characteristics and is interesting in its way. Let’s focus on 4:

  • Omaha;
  • Russian;
  • Oasis;
  • Ultimates.

Omaha is very similar to classic poker, but the other three are redesigned to suit the features of the gambling houses

Omaha poker rules

The general structure of Omaha is the same as that of Texas Hold’em. That's why this type of poker is ranked second in the world. The main difference, however, is that the player is dealt 4 cards instead of 2. But combinations can include two of the pocket cards.

There are three types of Omaha:

  • Omaha High;
  • Omaha High Low;
  • Five Card Omaha.

In the first, as in Hold’em, the player with the highest hand wins.

The second type is more interesting because here the winner can be either the owner of the highest or the lowest combination. Both high and low combinations can be played by the same player.

There are five cards in Low combination: from Ace (taken as 1) up to 8 including. The highest card is used to determine the seniority of the combination. The weakest combination is ace, 2, 3, 4, and 5. The high combination is played as usual.  Two cards with different pocket combinations can be used for the Low than for the High.

In five-card Omaha the rules are the same, only the player is dealt five cards initially.

Poker for gambling houses

Thanks to the widespread use of casinos, the rules have been adapted to suit them. The game is now played against a dealer. Let's have a look at the most popular types of such poker.

Russian poker

A standard 52 card deck is used in the game. The goal of the game is to get a hand higher than the dealer's hand, no matter the number of players involved. The number of players varies depending on the gambling house, but most commonly, it is between 1 and 4.

Before the game starts, the player places a mandatory stake (ante) into the betting box to confirm the game. Once there are no more bets, the dealer deals five cards, face down, to all players and himself in order. At the end of the hand, the dealer opens his top card.

The player looks at the card and chooses what to do next:

  • Play (put the cards in the betting box and bet two ante on them).
  • Not to play (the original ante is lost).
  • Buy an extra card or change any number of cards (one ante is paid for this action).

If a player changes or adds more cards, he has to decide whether to play again after receiving the new cards. If the game continues, two ante are paid.

The opening of the combinations takes place next. Several choices are possible:


  • Dealer doesn’t have a combination (no game is declared, an ante is returned to the player).
  • Dealer has a combination (the combination is compared).

If the dealer’s combination is higher than the dealer’s one then the player loses everything. If the player has a higher combination, he gets the corresponding amount of bets. The coefficient is determined depending on the senior combination.

If the dealer does not have a combination, the player can buy him the game. For one ante, the dealer replaces his high card with a card from the deck. And then the combinations are compared if the dealer has got something.

It is also now common to play two combinations. That is, if you have two combinations in your hand, your highest combination is compared with the dealer’s combination. If you win, the payout is made on the two combinations.

If the player and the dealer have the same combination, then the winner is determined by the highest card (kicker). In case of a complete draw, the player is declared STAY.

Oasis poker

This type of poker has a lot in common with Russian poker, but there are a few differences. The game starts the same way, at the decision stage, you cannot change as many cards as you like or add one extra card. One or two cards are exchanged, for one or one and a half ante respectively.

Then the game continues in the same manner as in Russian poker, but a new combination is added to the Oasis: ace-king. The payout rules are the same as in Russian poker. But there is an important difference; the player cannot buy into the dealer. If such a situation arises, only the doubled ante is returned to the player.

Ultimates poker

Probably one of the youngest types of poker. It is based on the classic game of Hold’em. The main feature is that the player can decide to play after receiving cards at any step of the deal.

In the beginning, each player bets an ante, also a blind (here it’s a mandatory bonus) in the amount of one ante. The dealer deals two cards to everyone, including himself. After the players are aware of the cards they decide whether to bet four ante or check and skip their turn.

Then the first three common cards are dealt. The players who bet do not bet anymore. The other players decide again, but at this stage, the bet is two ante.

After all the players have decided, the remaining two common cards are opened. Here the player either bets one ante or passes and leaves the game.

At the end of the betting, the dealer shows his cards and determines whether there is a combination. Then the dealer’s combination is compared with the players’ combination. If the player wins, the ante and bet are doubled. If the dealer doesn’t have a combination, i.e. there is no game, the ante is not paid. In case of a tie, the ante and the bet remain payable to the player.

The blind is paid if the player wins or if the dealer has no game. This is paid according to the player's combination. It is also possible to bet on a voluntary bonus; it is played regardless of the dealer’s play. In this case, the bet increases several times if the player has collected three cards of the same type or a combination higher. The payout also depends on the combination.


As you may have realized, poker is a challenging but very interesting game. With so many variations, it cannot get boring. You can try something new at any time. And its widespread popularity all over the world on various platforms allows it to attract more and more new players.

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