Online Poker Rules


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Relevant Articles > Poker Rules

Texas Hold'em General Rules

In hold'em, players receive two downcards as their personal hand (holecards), after which there is a round of betting. Three boardcards are turned simultaneously (called the "flop") and another round of betting occurs. The next two boardcards are turned one at a time, with a round of betting after each card. The boardcards are community cards, and a player may use any five-card combination from among the board and personal cards. A player may even use all of the boardcards and no personal cards to form a hand (play the board). A dealer button is used. The usual structure is to use two blinds, but it is possible to play the game with one blind, multiple blinds, an ante, or combination of blinds plus an ante.


The Shuffle, The Deal and The Blinds
The dealer shuffles a standard 52-card deck. (In casinos, the dealer never plays. A round disc -- known as a "dealer button" -- moves clockwise from player to player with each hand. The button marks which player would be the dealer if the deal were advanced from player to player as the game went along.) Most Texas Hold 'Em Poker games start with the two players to the left of the dealer (the button) putting a predetermined amount of money into the pot before any cards are dealt, ensuring that there's something to play for on every hand. This is called "posting the blinds." Most often, the "first blind" -- the player to the left of the dealer -- puts up half the minimum bet, and the "second blind" puts up the full minimum bet. Each player is dealt two cards, face down. These are known as the "hole cards." Betting Begins
A round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the two who posted the blinds. Players can call, raise, or fold when it's their turn to bet.

    Betting Rounds
  1. The dealer deals each player their own two cards face-down (pocket cards).
  2. 1st betting round .
  3. The dealer burns a card then turns over three community cards face-up
  4. 2nd betting round.
  5. The dealer burns another card then turns over 1 more community card
  6. 3rd betting round.
  7. The dealer burns another card then turns over 1 final community card.
  8. Last betting round
  9. Showdown (Every remaining player shows hand with bettor showing first)

The Flop
After the first betting round, the dealer discards the top card of the deck. This is called burning the card and is done to ensure that no one accidentally saw the top card, and to help prevent cheating.

The dealer then flips the next three cards face up on the table. These cards are called the "flop." NOTE: Eventually, a total of five community cards will be placed face up on the table. Players can use any combination of the community cards and their own two hole cards to form the best possible five-card Poker hand. After the flop, another round of betting takes place, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer (the button). During this and all future rounds of betting, players can check, call, raise, or fold when it's their turn to bet. Fourth Street
The dealer burns another card and plays one more face up onto the table. This, the fourth community card, is called the "turn" or "Fourth Street." The player to the left of the dealer (the button) begins the third round of betting. Fifth Street
The dealer burns another card before placing the final face-up card on the table. This card is called the "river" or "Fifth Street." Final Betting and The Winner
Players can now use any combination of seven cards -- the five community cards and the two hole cards known only to them -- to form the best possible five-card Poker hand. The fourth and final round of betting starts with the player to the left of the dealer (the button). After the final betting round, all players who remain in the game reveal their hands. The player who made the inital bet or the player who made the last raise shows their hand first.

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Limit Hold’em

Limit Hold’em is the most common betting structure of Texas Hold’em. The bets are set and in the first two rounds of betting (flop and pre-flop) the lower bet is used and on the turn/river the higher bet is used. For example, if the game is $1-2 limit hold’em, all bets and raises pre-flop/flop are $1 and all bets and raises on the turn/river are $2.

Hold’em limit’s structure tends to reward strong hands at the expense of drawing hands. This means that having a strong hand that doesn’t need improvement, like AK with an Axx flop, does better than a flush draw. This is because even if the flush draw hits it cannot extract much value from the made hand. In other words, if you have two hearts and two hearts come out on the flop, you will not be able to make a huge bet and extract a lot of value if you hit that final heart.

No-Limit and Pot-Limit Hold’em

No-limit and pot-limit hold’em are similar games. No-limit hold’em is extremely popular on the internet, much more than pot-limit hold’em.

No-limit/pot-limit betting structure (also called ‘big bet’ betting structure) lends games to be far less mechanical than fixed limit structure. Starting hand selection/pot odds are part of no limit hold’em, but this article will focus on the several key big bet poker concepts you should learn before playing no limit/pot limit hold’em.

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Omaha High

Game Rules - Omaha Hi
Each player is dealt 4 cards face down. These cards are also called the hole cards and no one can see them but you. After these cards are dealt there is a round of betting known as pre-flop betting.

Then 3 cards are dealt face up on the board. These 3 cards are also called the flop. After another round of betting, a 4th card, the turn, is dealt face up to the board. Another round of betting follows. Then a 5th card, the river, is dealt. The river is followed by a final round of betting. At this point all the remaining players reveal their hole cards.

Each player chooses exactly 2 of his hole cards and combines them with exactly 3 of the board cards to form a 5-card poker hand. The player with the best poker hand wins. Unlike Texas Hold'em, the players cannot choose how many cards they want to use from their hole cards. They cannot use 3 cards or 1 card; they must use exactly 2.

For example, if a player has AA96 in the hole, and the board is KQJT6, the best hand he can make is AAKQJ, or a pair of Aces. If a player has AQJ2 in his hand and the board is 777AQ, the best hand he can form is 777AQ, or three of a kind 7's. He cannot pair his Ace or Queen with the board without destroying the trip 7's he has.

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Omaha Hi/Lo

Game Rules - Omaha Hi/Low
Omaha hi-lo’s popularity is on the rise, especially online and in the United States. It is generally played in the fix limit form, whereas Omaha hi is often played pot limit or fixed limit.

Omaha hi-lo has the same rules as Omaha except there is one twist- the lowest hand splits half the pot with the highest hand. To qualify as a low hand, a player must have 5 unique cards 8 or less. Like Stud 8, straights and flushes do not count, so A2345 is the best possible low hand.

When you play Omaha hi-lo, your best hi and lo are considered when you show down your hand. For example, suppose you have AA23 (the best Omaha hi-lo hand) and the final board is A4456. You have a full house, aces full of 4’s for your high. Your low hand is A2456.

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7 Card Stud

Game Rules - 7 Card Stud
Seven card stud is still a very popular poker game, both in brick and mortar casinos and online card rooms. It is the most popular non-communal card poker game (in other words, a poker game where everyone has their own cards). Seven stud is almost exclusively played in the fixed limit betting form. Mathematical and technical skills are paramount in low limit stud games; it is far less psychologically intensive as hold’em.

In seven card stud, the player with the best poker hand (i.e. five card hand) out of his seven total cards wins. There are five rounds of betting. At first, everyone gets three cards, two down and one exposed. This is called third street. The player with the lowest card showing must bring in for half of the small bet. People can choose to raise, call, or fold to this bet. The next card is dealt face up to each of the players remaining (fourth street). On fourth and all of the later streets, the player with the highest hand showing starts the betting.

Fifth and sixth streets are similar to fourth street, where the card is dealt face up and the player with the highest hand showing starts the betting. The final card, seventh street, is dealt face down to all of the remaining players. However, in the unlikely event that it is a full game of 8 people, the final card is dealt face up and is a communal card (if there is 8 people that stayed through sixth street, there would only be 4 cards remaining in the deck).

Since seven card stud is generally played in fixed limit form, the lower bet is used for third and fourth street play, and the big bet is used for fifth street and later play. However, if there is a pair exposed on the board on fourth street, people have the option of betting the larger amount.
See more information on seven card stud .

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7 Card Stud Hi/Lo

Game Rules - 7 Card Stud Hi/Low
Seven Card Stud Hi/Low is played exactly like 7 card stud with one key difference- the lowest hand wins half the pot. The qualifier is that the low hand has to contain 5 cards that are 8 or less (straights and flushes don’t count). Thus, A2345 is the best possible low hand. In the even that there is a tie for the low or high hand, that part of the pot is split between the two winning hands. Also, if there is no qualifying low hand, the high hand wins the whole pot.
See more information on seven card stud

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Online Tournaments
Basic Premise
Tournaments are a fun, cheap way to learn the game of poker or maybe even win a big prize for a small investment of money. To enter a tournament, you must usually pay the registration fee. The fee is denoted by XX +Y, where XX of your money goes to the prize pool and Y is the house take for hosting the game. When you enter a tournament, whether it costs $10 or $100, you are given a set number of chips with which to play. Unless it’s a ‘rebuy’ tournament, where you can not buy any more chips. If you lose all of your chips, you are out of the tournament. The winner of a tournament is the one who holds ALL of the chips at the tournament’s completion. The tournament winner is not the chip leader when time runs out; every other player in the tournament must have busted out for one person to be declared the victor. Thus, tournaments are not ‘timed’ like a football or basketball game. They are more like a boxing match with unlimited rounds where every opponent must b e KO’d for someone to win.

Many people initially think, “Couldn’t a tournament go on forever if people just fold?” The answer is a resounding NO because the tournament blinds gradually increase. For every 15 minutes or 10 hands that elapse (this structure depends on the tournament), the blinds increase. The rising blinds are designed to speed up the tournament so people get knocked out bit by bit. You should aim to gradually increase your chips throughout the tournament before you end up being all in on your next big blind (which is very possible in the later rounds of the tournament).

Single-Table Tournaments
The first type of tournament is a single-table tournament. These tournaments run continuously and take about 45 minutes to complete. The size of this tournament is always one full, single table (10 players). They immediately begin once ten people sign up for the tournament.

The prize pool of this tournament will always be the buyin times 10. If you had to pay $20+2 to enter this tournament, the total prize pool would always be $200. First place does not get all of the money in single-table tournaments. The prize structure is always set where first place gets 50% of the buyins, second gets 30%, and third gets 20%. So if the tournament cost $20+2 to join, first place would get $100, second would get $60, third would get $40, and fourth through tenth would get nothing.

Any type of poker game can be played as a single-table tournament: no limit hold’em, limit hold’em, limit 7 stud, pot limit Omaha hi-lo, etc. No matter what type of poker game is played, the payouts/prize pool will always be the same (i.e. prize pool= 10 X buyin with 50% going to winner, 30% to second place, 20% to third).

Whenever playing these single-table tournaments, you should always aim to win first place. If you think about the payouts in terms of profit, there is a big difference between first place and the others. First place earns four buyins, second wins two, and third only makes one. Thus the profit of winning first is four times the profit of placing third.

However, if it is late in the tournament and you are low on chips, the tournament turns into a game of survival for you. While you should hope to win first, it is also tragic to get fourth. The difference between fourth/third and second/first are 20% of the buyins, so these are the main places with the most contention in the tournament.

When it is down to four people and people turn into survival mode, you should exploit this if you are the chip leader. People are going to be less likely to challenge you because they know you can bust them easily. Thus, bully people, steal their blinds, and set yourself up to win the whole thing.

Multi-Table Tournaments
When a tournament has over ten players, it is played over multiple tables. These ‘multi-table’ tournaments are also very popular, but take much longer and are scheduled in advance. Instead of just starting when 10 people enter a tournament, the poker room will schedule a multi-table tournament and begin it at the predetermined time with however number of people that signed up.

When the tournament starts, the software sits people down at as many number of tables that are necessary to fit everyone that registered for the tournament. As people get eliminated, the number of tables is reduced bit by bit until people reach the final table. For example, let’s say 90 people enter a multi-table tournament. The tournament would start with 9 full tables of ten people each. After about 20 minutes, 10 people are eliminated (spread over the different tables). The poker room will eliminate one of the tables and move those people from that table to all of the other tables (there would now be 8 full tables of ten people instead of 9 semi-full ones). In the above example, if the software decided to eliminate one of the tables with 9 people on it, those 9 people would fill in the gaps of the other tables.

The prize pools of multi-table tournaments vary. Again, the higher you place, the more money you will win. However, all of the money does not go to the top three places. The prize pool is divided among more finishers, generally at least the top 10% get money (the big prizes are skewed towards the top). For example, if 90 people entered the tournament, you would expect first to get 30%, second 24%, and third 16%, all the way down to 10th who would get 2%. To know for sure the payout structure of the tournament, check the poker room’s website.

While you may not realize this at first glance, the payout structure of multi-table tournaments really makes them feast or famine. For single table tournaments, 30% of the contestants get money, and there are only 10 buyins total. In the above example (with 90 people entering the multi-table tournament), only 11% of entrants got the money. Instead of first place winning 5 buyins (as he or she would in the single-table tournament), first place wins 30 buyins! Thus, if the tournament only cost $20+2 to enter, first place would walk away with $600!

These types of skewed payouts make these tournaments both fun and frustrating. There is a lot of luck involved with winning these types of tournaments. The winner of the most famous multi-table tournament, the championship NL Hold’em event at the WSOP, has to get very lucky to win.

Multi-table tournaments are very popular because you can win a lot of money for very little investment. While the expected value is not great (you will not win any money the vast majority of the time), you can often play three or more hours of poker for a small price.

All types of poker can be played in a multi-table tournament setting, though the hold’em events are always the most popular and bring in the most players. See more information on poker wsop qualify page.

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Ranking of Hands

BONUS CODE RoyalFlush Royal Flush:
Ten, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of the same suit.
BONUS CODE straightflush Straight Flush:
Straight with all five cards in the same suit.
BONUS CODE 4 of a kind Four of a Kind:
Four cards of the same number or face value ("quads").
BONUS CODE Full House Full House:
Three cards of one number or face value and two cards of another number or face value. If more than one player has a full house, the full house with the highest ranking three of a kind ("trips") wins.
BONUS CODE Flush Flush:
Five cards of the same suit. If there is more than one flush, the hand with the highest card(s) wins.
BONUS CODE straight Straight:
Five cards in sequence. Cards can be in any suit. An Ace can be used in the highest straight (10, J, Q, K, A) and the lowest straight (A, 2, 3, 4, 5).
BONUS CODE 3 of a kind Three of a Kind:
Three cards of the same number or face value ("trips").
BONUS CODE 2 pair Two Pair:
If two players have two pair, the hand with the highest pair wins. If they have the same high pair, whoever has the second highest pair wins. If they have the same two pair, whoever has the highest fifth card ("kicker") wins.
One Pair One Pair:
Two cards of the same number or face value. If two players have the same pair, the highest outside card(s) wins.
BONUS CODE highcard High Card:
The hand with the highest card(s) wins.