Poker Rules – Poker Basics for Beginners

This page will help you learn the rules of the main poker variants, including Texas Hold’em, Omaha and 3 Card poker. You can also read more detailed guides to help further your playing ability. We’re confident this is the only beginner’s poker resource you’ll ever need!

Poker Guides for Beginners

This guide takes you through the general rules of poker in more detail. It covers everything from table limits and identifying a good hand, to knowing when to call, raise and fold.

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As the most popular variation of poker, it’s worth building a deep understanding of how Texas Hold’em is played. Here you can learn about the game’s rules and how betting works.

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This must-read guide breaks down the different hands in poker, ranking them from highest to lowest.

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This guide builds on your knowledge of starting hands, explaining how table position might affect whether or not you should bet.

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Familiarize yourself with the nicknames given to various poker hands. Professionals, announcers and other players use this lingo, so it will help you follow what’s going on.

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There are so many terms, abbreviations and acronyms used in poker that it practically has its own language. Learn what they all mean with our poker glossary.

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When playing online you don’t need to worry about table etiquette or physical tells. That all changes in a real-life casino. Read our comprehensive guide before you take things offline.

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Winning a poker game is as much about how you bet as the hand you have in front of you. We talk you through the process of placing bets, with an emphasis on bluffing.

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All beginner players have to start somewhere, so we’ve put together a series of useful tips that you should read before you hit the tables.

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Learn how to boost your bankroll from next to nothing so you can take part in tournaments with larger buy-ins.

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In this guide we share tips and tricks on how to improve your poker game once you’ve mastered the basics.

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Many players dream of using their poker skills to make a living. In this frank and honest guide, we delve into the possibilities of this.

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Basic Poker Rules

In almost all variations of poker, with Razz being a notable exception, the aim of the game is to put together the best poker hand possible. Multiple rounds of betting take place while players gradually build their hand.

To win, players must either drive others to fold before the end of the game or reveal the strongest hand at showdown.

Beyond that, poker rules can differ considerably. Below we share the basics of the following variants:

  • Texas Hold’em

    Texas Hold’em

    Texas Hold’em Poker Rules

    Texas Hold’em is the most popular variant of poker. All the biggest tournaments, such as the WSOP, EPT and WPT, feature the no-limit variation.

    Texas Hold’em Poker Rules image
    All players are dealt two hole cards that only they can see.
    Texas Hold’em Poker Rules image
    Five community cards are dealt gradually. Players try to construct the best hand possible using their cards and/or the community cards.
    Texas Hold’em Poker Rules image
    There’s a round of betting once hole cards have been dealt, after the flop , after the turn , and after the river.
    Texas Hold’em Poker Rules image
    Players can check if they don’t want to place a bet but must call any bets/raises made by other players if they want to stay in the round.
    Texas Hold’em Poker Rules image
    If two or more players are still in at the end of the hand, there’s a showdown to determine who wins the pot.

    When you’re ready to play for real money, check out our list of the best real money online poker sites.

  • Omaha

    Omaha

    Omaha Poker Rules

    Omaha poker is similar to Texas Hold’em, except each player gets four hole cards (rather than two) and you must use two of them to make your hand.

    Omaha Poker Rules image
    All players are dealt four hole cards that only they can see.
    Omaha Poker Rules image
    Up to five community cards are dealt. Players must use exactly two of their hole cards and three community cards to make a hand.
    Omaha Poker Rules image
    Like in Texas Hold’em, there are multiple rounds of betting that give players a chance to up the value of the pot as they construct their hands.
    Omaha Poker Rules image
    If two or more players are still in when the hand ends, a showdown determines the winner(s).
    Omaha Poker Rules image
    In the Omaha Hi-Lo variant, the pot is split between the two players who have the highest and lowest value hands.

    When you’re ready to play for real money, check out our list of the best Omaha poker rooms.

  • Irish Poker

    Irish Poker

    Irish Poker Rules

    Irish poker is a mix of Texas Hold’em and Omaha. Players are dealt four hole cards, as in Omaha, but must then discard two of them. The rest plays out like a game of Texas Hold’em.

    Irish Poker Rules image
    All players are dealt four hole cards before the first round of betting.
    Irish Poker Rules image
    There’s another round of betting once the first three community cards have been dealt.
    Irish Poker Rules image
    Players must then discard two of their cards. The rest plays out just like Texas Hold’em.
    Irish Poker Rules image
    There’s a round of betting after the fourth community card has been dealt (the turn ) and after the fifth community card has been dealt (the river ).
    Irish Poker Rules image
    Players can check if they don’t want to place a bet but must call any bets/raises made by other players if they want to stay in the round.
    Irish Poker Rules image
    If two or more players are still in at the end of the hand, there’s a showdown to determine who wins the pot.
  • 3 Card Poker

    3 Card Poker

    3 Card Poker Rules

    3 Card poker sees players build a hand using just three cards. Hand rankings are therefore different - there is no such thing as a full house or four of a kind, and straights outrank flushes.

    3 Card Poker Rules image
    Unlike many variants of poker, 3 Card Poker is played against the dealer rather than other players.
    3 Card Poker Rules image
    After placing their wager, players are dealt three cards.
    3 Card Poker Rules image
    They must then decide whether to play the hand (doubling their wager) or fold.
    3 Card Poker Rules image
    The dealer reveals their cards but must have Queen high or better to qualify.
    3 Card Poker Rules image
    Whoever has the better hand wins the round.
    3 Card Poker Rules image
    Players can also make various side bets that can improve payouts for more impressive hands (such as a flush, straight or three of a kind.)

    When you’re ready to play for real money, check out our list of the best 3 Card poker rooms.

  • 5-Card Draw

    5-Card Draw

    5-Card Draw Poker Rules

    5-Card Draw is one of the simplest types of poker and the variant you’ll find in video poker games.

    5-Card Draw Poker Rules image
    Each player is dealt five hole cards that only they can see.
    5-Card Draw Poker Rules image
    After an initial round of betting, players have a chance to discard some (or all) of their cards and receive new ones in their place.
    5-Card Draw Poker Rules image
    This is followed by another round of betting.
    5-Card Draw Poker Rules image
    If two or more players remain in the hand, there’s a showdown to determine who has the best hand and wins the round.
  • 7-Card Stud

    7-Card Stud

    7-Card Stud Poker Rules

    In 7-Card Stud players receive seven cards throughout the course of the game before they decide which five to use to build their hand.

    7-Card Stud Rules image
    Players are dealt two hole cards that only they can see, and a door (face up) card.
    7-Card Stud Rules image
    There’s a round of betting after players are dealt a second face up card, a third face up card, a fourth face up card, and when players are dealt third face down card.
    7-Card Stud Rules image
    Once players have used any five of their seven cards to construct the best hand they can, there’s a final round of betting.
    7-Card Stud Rules image
    If two (or more) players are still active, a showdown determines who has the best hand and wins.
  • Razz

    Razz

    Razz Poker Rules

    In Razz, the lowest or ‘worst’ hand wins. This is the key different between Razz and most other poker variants.

    Razz Poker Rules image
    Razz poker works just like 7-Card Stud.
    Razz Poker Rules image
    Like in 7-Card Stud, players are dealt a total of three face down and four face up cards, and there are five rounds of betting.
    Razz Poker Rules image
    However, the winner is the player with the lowest hand. The best hand possible is A-2-3-4-5 as pairs are viewed as high and straights don’t count.
    Razz Poker Rules image
    If players have identical hands, the pot is split.

Poker Rules FAQ

What are the rules of poker?

The aim of poker is to put together the best hand possible. In the more popular variants such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha, players create the hand using a mixture of community cards which are dealt gradually (and are available to all players) and hole cards. In other variants, players can swap or discard cards before committing to their final hand.

Multiple rounds of betting are common, where players try to drive others to fold before they reveal their cards at showdown.

What are short deck poker rules?

Short deck poker, sometimes known as Six-Plus Hold’em, is a variation of Texas Hold’em that sees cards 2 through 5 removed from any deck you’re playing with. Other than this key difference, which results in more high value hands, the rules are the same.

How do you win poker?

In effect, there are two different ways to win when following basic poker rules:

  1. Put together the best hand that defeats any other players in the showdown
  2. Place bets in such a way that all other players fold their hand

These methods often, but don’t always, go together, and bluffing is a key ingredient in winning a round when you have a subpar hand.

How many chips do you start with in poker?

This varies depending on the starting chip value, buy-in amount and number of players. To make things easy, we’ve created a poker chip calculator to help you figure out exactly how many chips each player needs if you’re setting up a home game.

What are the poker hand rules?

Different poker hands have different values. We’ve listed them below, starting with the best.

  1. Royal Flush (A, K, Q, J, 10, suited)
  2. Straight Flush (Five cards in sequence, suited) e.g. 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, all clubs
  3. Four of a Kind (Four cards of the same rank) e.g. 10, 10, 10, 10, 2
  4. Full House (Three of a Kind plus a Pair) e.g. 8, 8, 8, 3, 3
  5. Flush (Five cards suited, not in sequence) e.g. 3, 6, 9, 10, K, all spades
  6. Straight (Five cards in sequence, not suited) e.g. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, different suits
  7. Three of a Kind (Three cards of the same rank) e.g. 7, 7, 7, A, K
  8. Two pair (Two pairs) e.g. 2, 2, A, A, 4
  9. Pair (Two cards of the same rank) e.g. 8, 8, 3, 9, Q

Note that in Razz, the lowest hand wins!

How do you play poker for beginners?

The best advice we have for beginners, beyond checking out the poker rules guides at the top of this page, is to play for free (or for very small amounts) to hone your skills before you move on to playing for more substantial sums of money.

The more you practice, the better you’ll do when you start playing against other skilled players.

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