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The full rules to play at poker

The poker's objective is to gain money by winning the pot, which contains players bets made during the hand. A player wagers a bet in hopes that he has the best hand (buffing), or to give the impression that he holds a strong hand and thus convince his opponents to fold (abandon) their hands. Since money saved is just as valuable as money won, knowing when to release a hand that appears to be beaten is just as important as knowing when to bet. In most poker games, the highest combination of five cards is the better hand.

The poker hands ranking (starting from the highest) are the following:

Royal Flush
The Royal Flush is the highest hand in traditional poker
  • 01 - 5 of a Kind (video poker only)
  • 02 - Royal Flush
  • 03 - Straight Flush
  • 04 - 4 of a Kind
  • 05 - Full House
  • 06 - Flush
  • 07 - Straight
  • 08 - 3 of a Kind
  • 09 - 2 Pair
  • 10 - Pair
  • 11 - High Card

Playing Poker

Any number of players, typically from two to ten, can play, depending on the game. Most casino games are set up with eight players for a seven card game like Stud poker or Razz, and nine or ten players for Texas Hold'em Poker. You win hands in one of two ways:

  1. You show down (reveal) the best hand at the conclusion of all the betting rounds. When two or more players are still active when all the betting rounds are done, they turn their hands face up. The pot goes to the player who holds the most high hand during this showdown.
  2. All your opponents fold their hands. No, this doesn't mean they politely clasp their fingers on the table in front of them. Folding a hand (or, more simply, folding) means that a player relinquishes his or her claim to the pot by not matching an opponent's bet. In this case, you may have had the best hand or you may have been bluffing - it doesn't matter. When opponents surrender their claim to the pot, it's yours.

In games like Seven-Card Stud and Texas Hold'em, the best hand is a high hand. In other games, like Lowball and Razz, the best hand is a low hand. (The best possible low hand is 54-3-2-A; the next best is 64-3-2-A.) In split-pot games, two winners split the pot. For example, in Seven-Card Stud, High-Low Split, Eight-or-Better (mercifully abbreviated as Seven-Stud/8) and Omaha High-Low Split, Eight-or-Better (or just Omaha/8) the best high hand and the best low hand split the pot (provided that someone makes a low hand composed of five unpaired cards with a rank of 8 or lower). The worst possible low hand would consist of 87-6-54. The best of all low hands is 54-3-2-A (known as a wheel or bicycle).

While a high hand always will be made in split-pot games, there won't necessarily be a low hand. And when there's no low hand, the high hand wins the entire pot. Most games require ante or blind bets. If antes are used, each player must post a token amount of money in order to receive cards. As for blinds, one or two players are required to make a bet or portion of a bet before the hand is dealt. This requirement rotates around the table so that each player pays his fair share. Each time a round of cards is dealt, players have an opportunity to check, bet, fold, call, or raise.

Any time the player can choose to point his interest in the pot, he may release his hand when it is his turn to act (to do something like: raise, fold, check, or call). When a player folds a hand, he is not required to place any more money in the pot. If a player bets or raises and nobody calls, the pot return to that player, the cards are collected and mixed, and the next hand is dealt. If there are two or more players still active at the end of the hand, the best hand wins the pot.


Seven card stud poker

Seven Card Stud is probably one of the most popular of all the poker games most commonly played. In this game, every players are dealt seven cards of their own: one face up and two cards in the hole, followed by an opening bet. Then three cards face up, with a betting round after each card dealt, and a final card in the hole with a final bet. (CC) C bet; C (bet); C (bet); C (bet); (C) bet. The player makes a hand using any five cards from the seven dealt. The biggest hand wins the pot.

Caribbean stud poker

The Caribbean Stud Poker is a casino table game based on the standard 5-card stud poker game played on a Blackjack-type table. Some casinos also offer a progressive jackpot paid to high ranking hands. This table game is played with one deck of cards. Here the player fight against the dealer's hand. Each player makes the opening bet called “ante”. Players then have the option to bet $1.00 to participate in the progressive jackpot. Players win all or part of the progressive jackpot with a Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House or Flush.

Players place the opening bet “ante”. Then the dealer deals in turn giving five cards each face down, including himself except for the dealer's fifth card, which is face up. After examining the cards, the player must decide on one of two options:

Either place a bet on the “play” mark equal to the “ante” amount and continue the game, or Fold and withdraw from that round and forfeit the 'ante' wager. Once that all players made their choice, the dealer will look at his or her cards. The dealer's hand must contain an Ace-King or better to qualify and challenge the players hands, otherwise the dealer folds and only the “ante” wagers are paid, at 1:1 irrespective of ranking. The 'play' bet is returned to the player.

If the dealer's hand qualifies with an Ace-King or better, then the players cards are opened and compared against the dealer's. If the dealer's hand is better than the player's hand, then the player loses both, the 'ante' and 'play' wager.

If the player's cards are better than the dealer's, then the dealer pays the player for both wagers: the “ante” and the “play”. For the 'ante' the payoff is fixed at 1:1 irrespective of the hand ranking. For the 'play' wager the payoffs vary according to the ranking of each player's hand.

The payoffs may differ between casinos but basically they are as follows:

  • A Pair - Even Money
  • Two Pairs - 2 to 1
  • Three of A Kind - 3 to 1
  • Straight - 4 to 1
  • Flush - 5 to 1
  • Full House - 7 to 1
  • Four of A Kind - 20 to 1
  • Straight Flush - 50 to 1
  • Royal Flush - 100 to 1

Irrespective of the dealer's hand, if a player has a hand that qualifies for the progressive jackpot, the player wins according to the ranking of his hand. If two or more players win, the winnings are shared. The jackpot payoffs are as follows:

  • Royal Flush - 100% of the Jackpot
  • Straight Flush - 10% of the Jackpot
  • Four of a Kind - $100
  • Full House - $75
  • Flush - $50

House advantage 5.22%

Let it ride poker

Let it ride is a poker variation. The object of the game is to get a pair of 10s or better using three cards dealt to the player and two “community” cards given to the dealer. At this game everybody plays against the casino. To begin with, all player makes three bets of the same amount. Then the dealer gives each player three cards and takes two community cards placed face down. After looking at their first three cards every player has the chance to take back one of their three bets or to leave it out “let it ride”.

Then the dealer turns over one of the two community cards, which apply to all hands on the table, and each player has the option to take out another bet or to “let it ride”. The player may choose to leave their bet in or take it out the second time regardless of their first decision.

Than the dealer shows the second community card. Winners are paid based on hands which have a pair of 10s or better with a pair of 10s paying even money, as follows:

  • Tens or better 1 to 1
  • Two pair: pays 2 to 1
  • Three of a kind: pays 3 to 1
  • Straight: pays 5 to 1
  • Flush: pays 8 to 1
  • Full house: pays 11 to 1
  • Four of a kind: pays 50 to 1
  • Straight flush: pays 200 to 1
  • Royal flush: pays 1,000 to 1

House advantage 3.5%

Pai gow poker

The Pai Gow Poker is a fusion of the ordinary American poker with the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow. It's played with 53 card deck, joker included. The Joker can be used only as an Ace, or to complete a Flush or a Straight. The game is one-to-one, the player (or players) plays against the banker, each fight to make the better possible hand. Due to a rather slow pace and a lot of ties pai gow poker is less intense than most casino games and a modest bankroll can usually last a long time.

Each player is dealt seven cards. The cards are arranged into two hands: a 2-card hand and a 5-card hand. Rankings are like the classic poker. The biggest 2-card hand is Aces and the biggest 5-card hand is a royal flush.

The 5-card hand have to be biggest than the 2-card hand. For example, if the 2-card hand is a pair of fours, the 5-card hand must contain a pair of fives or better.

The game's object is for the player to have both hands to have a most high rank than those of the banker. If the player wins on one hand but loses on the other, it's a push and no money changes hands. If one hand ranks the same as the banker's hand, it's a tie but the banker still wins. Winning hands are paid even money, less a 5% commission. Losing hands lose the amount wagered.

House advantage 2.5%

Mastering Poker (poker face and body language)

Professional poker player Chris Ferguson
The 'poker face' of pro player Chris Ferguson

When playing poker, body language and eye movement is crucial in figuring out what sort of hand your opponents may be holding and it's even more crucial that your own body language and eye movement is under control whilst you're playing. If it’s not then you may find yourself losing more hands than you win.

Here are some tips in order for you to maintain your body language and poker face whilst playing poker.

Eye contact

Ever wondered why some professional poker players wear sunglasses? Well, this is all to do with eye contact and if you’re serious when playing with the pro’s you may consider doing the same.

Professional and experience poker players will be able to tell the strength of your hand from your eye contact with other players and thus will be able to determine as to whether to fold or rise.

But another reason why sunglasses can be so important at the poker table is because your eyes can reflect and an experienced poker player may be able to read your cards from the reflection in your eyes.

Remain the same

No matter what hand you receive, you should act and remain exactly the same within your body language and eye contact. So for example, don’t smile when you receive a bad hand thinking you’ll put other players off the trail as an experienced poker player will see right through this facade and will play against it.

Same as, don’t begin shaking or getting nervous during a game of poker, as other players will also catch onto this and then do their best in order to unsettle you further. If you remain cool and collected, you may be the player that comes out on top.

Avoid nervous body movement

Some new poker players will often become unaware of nervous body language that other poker players at the table will be increasingly aware of, and thus will see right through you. Some nervous body language to avoid would be hair touching, nail biting, or tapping of poker chips on the table. This would be extremely obvious for other players as to what hand strength you possessed and thus would bring your game right down.

Be confident

The more confident you appear on a poker table, the more unsettled your opponents will begin to feel. People who are bluffing generally avoid eye contact, so you should keep as much eye contact with your opponents as possible and don’t be the one who backs down and looks away, as this will make you look weak. You should be aggressive in your hand and show you will not back down for any reason.

Last but not least

Never say anything to your opponents such as “I think you’re lying” as this could point the finger at you and thus make other players play on this. Not only that, but this could make you predictable to more experienced players.

Overall, if you aim to win and monitor others and your own body language then you’ll find that you’re not only more confident, but a slightly better off too!

How to Successfully Bluff in Poker

Professional poker player Vanessa Rousso
Vanessa Rousso

Since bluffing is such an important factor when playing poker at a table rather than online, it's no wonder that so many poker players are spending so much time perfecting their bluffing skill. The best bluffers in poker are generally the richest players, and bluffing is a skill that can be perfected by anyone, and with this guide, you’ll be bluffing like the pro’s in no time.

The first thing to do in order to successfully bluff when playing poker is to determine how many opponents are at the table. This is crucial when determining whether to bluff this game or not and what your chances of winning will be if you do bluff.

The reason is because one or two opponents will be easier to force to fold than say five or six opponents. So, this is something you should also take into consideration when choosing a table to play at as well. Try and wait until the game is just beginning and then join in so you get to the tables with less people. First things first, and the most crucial part in beginning a successful bluff is when you receive your cards to keep a plain face and show no disappointment and no excitement.

This is a way of giving no indication to other opponents as to how strong your hand is. In the first round of betting make sure you bet, or raise someone else’s bet. This will also make you seem confident to others.

Continue betting throughout the other rounds consistently and effectively as this will intimidate your opponents and will lead them to think you’re holding a winning hand. Your opponents may keep rising too which will mean if your bluff is successful, you’ll receive a higher winning pot! Your opponents may also fold which mean you win anyway.

If your opponents continue through to the river card, then this is when you must up your game and make a bet that is extremely threatening to the other player's game. Don’t bet out of the ordinary for you though, as if you do this may look suspicious and they will catch you bluffing. If your opponents continue again through to the turn card, you must make a large bet out of the ordinary for your previous betting standards.This will threaten other opponents even more and begin to unsettle them, hopefully your opponents will then fold and the game will be yours. If not, then you’ll be stuck with a losing pot and lost money.

If this bluff goes well, then it’s a sure way of gaining yourself some extra funds, yet if it doesn’t you will lose funds. The key for bluffing is to be precise and normal, stick to one characteristic style of playing and then up it at the end. This will unsettle your opponents and will help you win. Bluffing is a great way of getting by in poker but it doesn’t always last, if you do have a really terrible hand, you may be better off folding and playing another round as if your opponents are pro’s they may be bluffing you just as much.

When to go All-in or fold in poker

David 'Chip' Reese
David 'Chip' Reese

Playing poker is an extremely nerve wracking and a highly stressful game what with important decisions needing to be made most of the time whilst playing. These decisions are highly important because they are not just decisions about playing money, when playing poker many are playing with and for hard, cold cash.

Many believe that one of the most difficult decisions to make when playing poker is whether to go all in or fold. This is one of the most difficult and important decisions to make, as it decides as to whether you go forward in the game with the hand you have or whether you end your game there and try your luck next time round.

Unless you have poker tactic software, like many players now do these days, then you may have no idea as to what kind of hand your other players are holding which can make the decision even harder to call.

When deciding as to whether to go all in or fold in a poker game, there are many different considerations to take into place. For example, how many chips you have and how much you’re prepared to lose if the game did take a turn for the worst. If you don’t take these crucial figures into consideration then you may find yourself out of pocket and out of a game.

Another factor to be taken into consideration when deciding whether to go all in or fold is what you have in your hand. For example, if you feel confident about your hand then you should continue throughout the game, yet if you don’t feel confident, you should fold and call it quits. If you have a mediocre feeling around your hand then it's up to your gambling instinct to decide what to do, as this is a choice only you and you yourself can call.

Possibly the most important factor that has to be taken into consideration is what you believe the other players hold in their hands too. If you feel more confident about your own hand than what they may be holding then you would of course go ahead. But how do you try and work out what your other players may be holding? Well, if you’ve monitored their behavior throughout previous games and this game, you may begin to notice a pattern in their playing. If so, then characteristic behavior outside of this pattern may indicate a strong hand and thus would be in your best interests to fold and get them next time!

Generally, choosing to go all in or fold should be an informed decision based on what you know about your opponents, how much you’re willing to lose if it did go wrong and how confident you are. Another factor could be how willing you are to bluff as well. Overall, after taking these factors into consideration, you should just go with what the information is telling you and if it does all go wrong, at least you tried!

Do you want to know all the poker definitions and terms? Check here the complete 'A to Z' poker terminology.