Poker’s enduring popularity can be ascribed to a couple of things: first, it’s a unique combination of luck and skill, which makes it a satisfying and rewarding game to play; second, it has some really clear rules that make it simple to play the game, no matter where you are, or who you’re with. You can be in an exotic location, surrounded by menacing characters who can’t speak a word of your language, or you could be in the comfort of your own home, playing an online live dealer game. You could even be playing in a queue at the bank! Wherever you play, you know exactly what to expect… provided you know all those rules, of course.
In this guide, we will cover the variations in rules across the major types of poker, including draw, stud and community card games.
Poker games can broadly be broken down into three main types:
This is the traditional form of poker that has been played most widely and for the longest around the world. It is played by dealing five cards to each player, face down. After placing their initial bets, players can switch cards to improve their hand. They can then raise their bets, and afterwards, all players still in the game reveal their cards. The highest ranking hand wins.
In stud poker, each player is dealt a combination of face-up and face-down cards. They have to construct their best five-card hand out of these cards, which can number five or seven. Betting and dealing is more complex than draw poker, but the highest ranking five-card hand will still win.
In this form of poker, two cards are placed in the centre of the table, face up, and each player receives a further three cards, face down. The community cards in the middle of the table are considered part of every player’s hand. Therefore, their five-card hand will include these two known cards. Rankings follow the same structure as other versions of poker.
Five of a kind
Five cards comprising any combination of cards with the same face value, plus wild cards
Four 3s plus a wild card
A straight flush comprising A, K, Q, J and 10 of the same suit
A, K, Q, J, 10 of clubs
Five consecutive cards of the same suit
8, 7, 6, 5, 4 of hearts
Four of a kind
Four cards with the same face value
Three cards with the same face value, plus two cards with another face value
Three kings and two 7s
Five non-sequential cards of the same suit
9, J, 6, 2, Q of spades
Five sequential cards of various suits
2, 3, 6 of diamonds, and 4 and 5 of clubs
Three of a kind
Three cards with the same face value
Two pairs of cards, each with the same face value
Two jacks, two 6s
Two cards with the same face value
5-card draw is what most people think of as the ‘original’ poker. The rules for play are as follows:
7-card stud is the most popular of the stud games. Its rules are as follows:
Community card poker games have exploded in popularity in the last twenty years, primarily due to the growing interest in Texas hold ‘em poker. While there are many varieties of community card games, we will focus on the rules for Texas hold ‘em in this guide.
Poker is a game played around the world by everyone from manual laborers to royalty. If you want to be a successful player, it pays to remember that there are etiquette and behaviour expectations that help make the experience enjoyable for everyone.
Poker can be a fun and rewarding game, even if you’re not playing for stakes. Getting to grips with the rules of poker and its many variations can seem tricky, but remember that all these games are fundamentally still poker. If you are unsure about the specific rules for a particular game, speak up and ask the dealer to clarify. You will much more easily be forgiven for asking a question than breaking a rule.
How au fait are you with the rules of poker? Could you teach your fellow players a thing or two? Tell us about your favourite type of poker and help other gamblers learn a trick from you.