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Poker rules


Basic Terms:

Hand: A player’s hand is the combination of cards he holds.

Play: A single game, from one shuffle to the next is called a play.

Pot: The pot is the accumulated pool of money bet by players over the course of a game. A round of poker is a battle for the pot, and the winner of any round wins it as a prize.

Hand Tie or Split Pot: If two players have the same hand then they divide the pot equally between them. When the pool is not exactly divisible then the left over amount goes to the player who called the highest bet.

Ante: An enforced bet that must be made by all players before any cards are dealt. An ante encourages action in a game.

Rake: A commission charged by a poker room for every hand played. The rake is usually taken as a percentage of the pot in a given hand. For example, if the rake is 10%, and a pot reaches a final of $10, the rake will be $1. Poker rooms generally use rake as their sole source of revenue.

Showdown: After the last round of betting in a round of poker, a showdown occurs- players must turn over their cards, and compare their five-card poker hands.


Betting Terms:

Call: A player may call a bet by putting an amount of money exactly equal to the bet into the pot. For example, if Jim bets $2, and Brian wants to call Jim’s bet, Brian must put $2 into the pot.

Fold: A player may fold his hand by laying down his cards, and forfeiting further play in a round of poker. For example, if Jim bets $2 and Brian wishes to fold, Brian must surrender his cards to the dealer, and will remain inactive for the rest of the round.

Raise: A player may raise a previous bet by putting an amount greater than the bet into the pot. A raise must be at least double the size of the previous bet. For example, if Jim bets $2, and Brian wants to raise Jim’s bet, Brian may put $4 or more into the pot.

Check: A player may pass his turn in a round of poker without taking any betting action, only if there are no previous bets in the round. This is known as a check. For instance, if Brian is first to act on the flop in a hand, he has the option of checking his hand, which will put the action on the next player.

Hand Rankings:

Know the order of cards, from low to high- 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack (J), Queen (Q), King (K) and Ace (A). The ace (A) can usually double as the lowest ranked card as well as the highest. Card suits do not affect ranking- for example, the king of hearts and the king of spades are equal. Final hands in poker are always based on the total rank of five cards.

Familiarize yourself with the definitions of different hands, and with the value of each type. The different categories of five-card poker hands are as follows, from weakest to highest: One Pair, Two pair, Three of a kind, Straight, Flush, Full house, Four of a kind, Straight flush and Royal flush. A given hand beats all hands listed before it.

  1. One pair consists of two cards out of a five-card hand with the same numerical rank. For example: A-A-K-7-6 (a pair of aces), or J-J-8-5-3 (a pair of jacks). If two players show down one pair hands of the same rank, they must compare their next highest card (the kicker) to determine the winner. If the two hands have equal kickers, then the next highest card must be compared- and so on. For example, A-A-7-6-5 (a pair of aces, 6 kicker) beats A-A-7-3-2 (a pair of aces, 3 kicker), since the 6 is a higher ranked card than the 3. One pair

  2. Two pair consists of two different pairs of cards and one other card in a five-card hand. Examples of two pair hands are A-A-K-K-5 (two pair, aces and kings, 5 kicker), and J-J-10-10-7 (jacks and tens, 7 kicker). If two players both show down two pair hands with equal top pairs, the lower pairs are compared, and the highest wins. For example A-A-K-K-5 (aces and kings) beats A-A-J-J-3 (aces and jacks). If both pairs are the same, the kickers are compared. For example, A-A-10-10-5 (aces and tens, 5 kicker) beats A-A-10-10-4 (aces and tens, 4 kicker). Two pair

  3. Three of a kind consists of three cards of the same numerical rank in a five-card poker hand. Examples of three of a kind would be A-A-A-3-2 (three of a kind aces), and 5-5-5-K-J (three of a kind fives). If two or more players show down three of a kind hands of equal rank, then the players must compare their kickers. As with pair hands, the hand with the highest kicker wins. For example, K-K-K-A-10 (three of a kind kings, ace and 10 kicker) beats K-K-K-A-9 (three of a kind kings, ace and 9 kicker), since 10 is higher in rank than 9. Three of a kind

  4. Straight consists of five cards in sequential order, of different suits. For example, 6-5-4-3-2 is a 6-high straight. Q-J-10-9-8 is a queen high straight. 5-4-3-2-A is the lowest possible straight, and is known as the ‘wheel’ Straight

  5. Flush consists of five cards in non-sequential order, all of the same suit. For example, A-9-7-5-2 of hearts is an ace high heart flush. K-J-8-6-3 all of spades is a king high spade flush. If two players both show down flushes, then they must compare their top cards to determine a winner. The highest ranked card wins. If these are equal, then they must compare their second highest cards, and the highest wins. If those are equal, then the third highest cards must be compared- and so on. For example, J-9-7-5-2 of hearts beats J-9-7-4-3 of hearts, since the 5 is of higher rank than the 4. Flush

  6. Full House consists of three cards of the same numerical value, as well as a pair. It is useful to think of a full house as containing both three of a kind and a pair. For example, A-A-A-5-5 is a full house, aces full of 5’s. 6-6-6-2-2 is a full house, sixes full of 2’s. If two players show down full houses with three of a kinds of equal rank, the hand with the highest ranked pair would win the pot. For example, K-K-K-8-8 would beat K-K-K-2-2. Full house

  7. Four of a kind consists of four cards of the same numerical rank, and any other card. An example of four of a kind would be, A-A-A-A-3 (four of a kind, aces). Four of a kind

  8. Straight Flush consists of five cards in sequential order, all of the same suit. For example, 7-6-5-4-3 of hearts is a 7-high straight flush. Straight flush

  9. Royal Flush consists of A-K-Q-J-10, all of the same suit. A royal flush is simply the highest possible straight flush- however because of its very high value, it is given a separate name. The suit of the royal flush does not matter- all of them are equal. Royal flush

  10. Any five-card poker hand that does not fit into one of the above categories is simply known as a high-card hand. When comparing two such hands, the one with the better highest card wins. If the highest cards are equal the second highest cards are compared. If those are equal, the third highest cards are compared, and so on. For example, A-J-9-5-3 (ace high, jack kicker) beats A-10-9-6-4 (ace high, 10 kicker), since the J is higher ranked than the 10. High card



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