Poker Rules

The history of poker is long and during all those years several poker variants have evolved. Nevertheless, some rules are common for all of them.

Poker Deck

Poker games are played using a single 52-card deck. It consists of 4 suits – spades (), hearts(), clubs(), and diamonds(). For each suit, there are 13 cards of the following ranks – 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace. In rare cases, also a Joker card may be used, representing any card chosen by the player it is held by.


In order to give motivation to play, some players are required to post blinds (small blind and big blind) before starting a hand. In case of late stages of tournaments and rare cash games, there are also antes, which are posted by every player at the poker table.

Dealing cards

Every poker hand starts with players being dealt cards (hole cards). Some or all of them are invisible to other players and the number of hole cards varies depending on the poker variant. In games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha, there are also cards dealt in the middle of the table, available for each player (community cards).

Action options

Poker hands consist of several betting rounds. During each betting round, a player has the following options when it is his time to act:

 Check – if he is first to act or nobody has bet before him, he can decide not to bet and hope to see next betting rounds for free (unless other players decide to bet).
 Bet – again, if he is first to act or everybody has checked to him, he can decide to bet and increase the pot. Any other player that wants to stay in the hand will have either to put the same amount of chips into the pot or more (raise).
 Raise – if somebody has already bet, a player can raise him by putting more chips into the pot. If the original bettor wants to stay in the hand, he will have either to call the raise or reraise by putting even more chips into the pot.
 Call – if the pot in the current betting round has already been increased by bets and raises, any player willing to stay in the hand has to put into the pot an amount of chips at least equal to the total bets and raises in the current betting round.
 Fold – a player, who refuses to call or raise, can resign from further play by folding. It is also possible to fold when everybody has checked to a player but it is totally unreasonable.

Determining the winner

A poker hand can finish in two ways:

 If there is only one player left in the hand (each other player has folded), then he is the winner and takes the pot. He can (but does not have to) show his cards to other players.
 If there are two or more players left, they show their cards and compare them. The player with the best hand wins the pot. In case two or more players have the same best hand, the pot is split between them. In Hi/Lo variants, the pot is split between the best and the lowest hand.

More articles on poker rules:

 Poker hand ranking
 Poker variants
 Texas Holdem rules
 Omaha rules
 7 Card Stud rules
 Betting limits
 High-low variants
 Table types

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