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 Poker Rules & Strategies


Contents:
1. Draw Poker Rules
2. Texas Hold'Em Poker Rules
3. Omaha Hi Poker Rules
4. 7-Card Stud Poker Rules
See Also:
Draw Poker Strategy
Texas Hold'em Strategy
Omaha Hi Poker Strategy
7-Card Stud Poker Strategy
Video Poker Rules & Strategies

POKER RULES

1. Draw Poker Rules

Draw Poker is the basic form of Poker and the place to start when introducing new players to the game. The goal of Draw Poker is building a hand from 5 cards. After the initial round of betting the player may discard some or all of their cards and receive replacements. The players cards should never be revealed until the final Showdown, and are only then if absolutely necessary (see below). During the game, all cards are dealt and discarded face down.

There are two main things to learn when it comes to Draw Poker. The first is Poker's 5-card hands and their ranking. The second is the course of play including when and how to bet.

Poker Hands
A poker hand is made from the best arrangement of five cards and are ranked as follows, highest first:

  • Royal Flush: A-K-Q-J-10 of same suit
  • Straight Flush: any five consecutive cards of same suit
  • Four-of-a-Kind: four cards of same value (e.g. four 9's)
  • Full House: Three-of-a-Kind and a Pair
  • Flush: any five cards of same suit
  • Straight: any five consecutive cards (of mixed suit)
  • Three-of-a-Kind: three cards of same value
  • Two Pair
  • Pair
  • No Pair: five dissimilar cards of mixed suit
There are no wild cards in Draw Poker. All suits are ranked equally.

The Course of Play
A round of Poker begins with determining the Dealer. The Deal usually rotates around the table from the right: if you've just dealt then the person on your left deals next.

Once assigned, the Dealer receives the deck and shuffles. Each player pays the "ante" which is a small, flat fee you pay to purchase the right to play that round. If you don't ante it means you are "sitting out". These monies and all others in the game go into the center of the table in a pile called "the pot". Once the antes are in, the Dealer deals one card at a time, face down, to each player around the table, beginning on the Dealer's left. Then the second card is dealt to each player, and so on until each player has 5 cards, all face down.

Players pick up their cards and assess their hand. The player to the Dealer's left opens the betting round by either placing a Bet, indicating a Pass by placing no bet, or Folding by discarding their hand.

Call and Raise
The next player to the left now has the opportunity to Bet. Or they can Fold. If the previous players Passed then they can Pass too or place a Bet of their own. If other players have Bet and they wish to stay in the round they must Call by matching any outstanding bets. They can then Raise by placing a bet of their own.

The betting then moves to the next player on the left, then the next, and so on back to and including the Dealer.

Once the Dealer has placed their bet, the other players must Call any outstanding bets or Fold. Generally speaking, no Raises are permitted once the betting has passed around to the Dealer.

Players may now Discard any or all of their cards based on their hopes of building a better hand. Cards are discarded face down and collected by the Dealer.

Replacements.
The Dealer now deals each player, starting on the left, their replacement cards, face down. As before the Player on the Dealer's left begins the betting and the betting proceeds around the table.

Again, the Dealer gets the final Raise. Then everyone else must Call or Fold. Finally, the remaining players are ready for the Showdown. If at any time there is only one player left in the game they take the pot. This player is encouraged to keep their cards hidden and muck them to the Dealer.

Showdown
After the final betting round, and all the necessary Calls, the players still in the game have reached the Showdown. The player's hands are revealed. The best hand wins and the winner takes the pot.

If there are tied winning hands then the rank of the individual cards determines the winner. For instance Full House of Aces over Jacks beats a Full House of Kings over Jacks. If it's still a tie and there are no kickers (spare cards not used to build the final hand) then the pot is split.

If the rank of the individual cards doesn't determine the winner, then the kicker(s) of higher rank determines the winner. If it's still a tie, the pot is split.

If there are no "name" hands (all players have No Pair), then the highest ranking single card is declared the winning hand. If it comes to a dead tie (no clear winner, all cards same rank) then the pot is split. Suit is never used to determine a winner in Poker.

While hands and betting are the basic rules, there is much, much more to being a successful Poker player. Poker is not about having the highest ranking hand, it's about winning the biggest pots. How you do that, short of cheating, is your business and that is what makes Poker the beloved game that it is.

2. Texas Hold'Em Poker Rules

Texas Hold'Em is the darling of pro Poker players, spectators, and the media. It's an aggressive, flashy, intense and unpredictable game that gets the dollars on the table and changing hands like no other contemporary form of Poker. All that and it looks deceptively simple to play. The old hard-nut players may prefer 7-Card Stud, but everyone else is in love with Hold'Em. It's no coincidence that Hold'Em is the game that players at the World Series of Poker play to determine who takes home $2,500,000 and the champion's custom 14-karat gold bracelet.

Hold'Em is clearly a descendant of 7-Stud in that players form a five-card hand from seven available cards, but that's where the similarity ends. In fact, only two cards are actually held by the player as pocket cards. The other five are open, dealt to the middle of the table and shared by all players. Of course this means there are less cards in play, which is why Hold'Em typically seats nine or more players at the table.

The dealer in Hold'Em is marked by a disk called the button. For each hand the button rotates to the left. Players are identified by their seat position. The dealer is seat one, the player to the dealer's left is seat two and so on, clockwise around the table to the player on the dealer's right which is typically seat nine.

In practice, casino Hold'Em has a fixed (house) dealer and the button rotates around the table simply to mark the rotation of theoretical dealer. Betting position significantly affects a player's opportunities so the button's position in not simply symbolic.

Hold'Em comes in many low-limit/high-limit forms. Beginner games are typically $1-$2 or $2-$5, but the high end can be as much as $300-$600, $500-$1000 or more. Regardless of the limits, Hold'Em is designed to be a money game. Instead of a small ante in 7-Stud, Hold'Em uses two forced bets, the blinds, to get Bets on the table right from the beginning of the game.

The Open
The first player to the dealer's left - seat two - is the small blind and must kick in half the lower limit ($5 in a $10-$20 game). Seat three is the big blind and must kick in the full value of the lower limit ($10 in a $10-$20) game.

The deal rotates clockwise around the table beginning with the player to the big blind's left. Each player is dealt their first pocket card in turn, then their second.

Since the blinds opened with their forced bets, seat four, the player to the big blind's right, bets first. They Call by matching the big blind ($10, the lower limit) and may also Raise by kicking in the big limit, $20 in our $10-$20 example game. In this round Checking is not permitted so a Check is the same as Folding. The blinds in Hold'Em are live in that they can Call, Raise or Fold when the betting has returned to them.

The Flop
Once the first betting round has completed, the dealer lays out the first three community cards in the center of the table. This is called the flop. This betting round begins with the blinds, or the first remaining seat on the dealer's left. Checking is permitted now and for the rest of the hand. Bets are placed at the lower limit ($10 in our example).

A fourth community card it dealt onto the table. Betting begins with the blinds, as before. Now, and for the rest of this game, Bets and Raises are at the high limit ($20). As such, the turn is the first expensive street.

The fifth and final community card is dealt. This is also an expensive street: Bets and Raises are all at the high limit ($20).

The Showdown
As in 7-Stud, the best 5 card hand wins. Players may form their final hands from any combination of the table cards and their own pocket cards, even ignoring the pocket cards and using only the table cards if they wish.

One point on which Hold'Em departs from other poker games is the option for any player to see another player's pocket cards once they've been mucked. Provided the requesting player has Called or Raised the last Bet made, they simply ask the dealer and the mucked cards will be retrieved and shown.

3. Omaha Hi Poker Rules

Omaha Hi is a version of Texas Hold'Em where players are dealt four hole cards instead of two. But there's a catch: two and only two of the hole cards can be used in making the final hand. Omaha Hi is also known as Omaha Hold'Em or simply Omaha.

The four hole cards make Omaha a nine-card game and having more cards to choose from means players will typically finish with stronger hands. Poker players being the people that they often are, the possibility of higher hands typically means that players stay in longer and the pots will grow accordingly.

In practice, Hold'Em players will find that the focus in Omaha Hi tends more towards playing the cards than playing the other players

Basic Rules
For the basics of Omaha, see Texas Hold'Em rules. The only variations are: 1)the player is dealt four hole cards, 2)the player makes their final hand from two of the four hole cards and three of the five community cards.

4. 7-Card Stud Poker Rules

When it comes to Poker games, Draw Poker is old school, 5-Card Stud is too rare to speak of, but 7-Card Stud is alive and well. Texas Hold'Em gets all the press and makes a better spectator game, but 7 Stud is the game of choice for the hard-nut players.

Stud demands strategy and skill and it takes a lot of play to develop the winner's edge. Top caliber players are few and far between but they have one thing in common with the rookies: every player of the game is still learning, even the masters.

Betting Limits
Stud games are defined by their betting limits. The low stakes online games are usually $2-$4 while the higher games are typically $8-$16 or $10-$20. The game's betting limits tell the Stud player pretty much everything they need to know about the nature of the game, the expectations of the players, and the size of the bankroll you should have before you sit in.

Your minimum Stud Buy-In is typically 10-times the low limit, or $20 for a $2-$4 game. But playing with the minimum is not recommended (see the Strategy page).

Anything below the $10-$20 level is generally considered a beginner's game. The skill and strategy levels required in the higher games are substantial and such games generally do not provide a friendly environment for the Stud player still learning their way around.

The Ante
Ante in Stud is mandatory and changes depending on the betting limits. The low games usually require a 10% Ante, so a $5-$10 game will have a $0.50 Ante. The high games get up to 25% on the Ante: that's $25 on a $100-$200 game. The percentages may vary somewhat but 10% is the typical minimum.

The dealer deals clockwise starting on their immediate left. They deal one card at a time around the table until each player has two pocket cards (face down) and a single up (the "door" card).

At this point the dealer indicates which player will open the betting, determined by the lowest door card. If there's a tie for low door, suit resolves it: spades over hearts, followed by diamonds, and finally clubs is the lowest.

Betting
Once the initial cards have been dealt, the game begins. At this point we've got three cards on the table per player and that's called "Third Street".

The player holding the lowest door card must "bring it in" by opening with a bet equal to twice the ante ($2 in our example game). If the low door player doesn't make this bet, they're forced to Fold and the opener passes to the player on their left.

The next player clockwise from the opener can Call by matching the opener, Raise by betting the low betting limit ($10) or Fold. Throughout third street all Bets and Raises are fixed at the low betting limit ($10).

Fourth Street
The dealer gives each player another open (up) card. Unlike third street, the opener in the fourth and remaining streets is the high hand as determined by the open cards. They may Check (Pass) or Bet. It they Bet it's at the low limit ($10) and that fixes all raises in this round to the same.

If the high hand is an open pair, the opener can Bet at the upper limit ($20) and this fixes all Raises in the round to the same.

Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Street
Again, the card is dealt up and high hand opens. All Bets and Raises are at the upper limit ($20).

The last card, called the "river", is another pocket card (face down). All bets and raises are at the high limit ($20).

Showdown
After the Bets and Raises have been resolved, the remaining players enter the Showdown. The opener reveals his pocket cards. If a player wishes to compete with this hand they too reveal their pocket cards, or they can yield and muck out (Fold).

At the casino it's the dealer's responsibility to call the winner, as determined by the best 5-card hand under normal Poker rules. In online games, the software will designate the winner and the pot will be passed to them. It is any player's right to request to see any final hand that has been mucked, though this is primarily intended for casino play.

It's true with all the Poker games, but never truer than with 7-Card Stud: the rules are barely the beginning. It's the strategy and gaming skills that make the game. Check out our Strategy page to learn more.

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