Basic Poker Rules for Beginners

Get ready to take notes and understand the basic poker rules that every beginner must know before starting to play. Unlike other card games, it can be quite difficult to play without studying the poker game rules. In fact, it is one of the few that is considered to be a skill game instead of a game of chance, which means that it is even more important to turn rules in your favor!

Poker Basic Rules to Play

Before starting to play, know that poker is played with a single 52-card deck. That means each card value appears four times, each one with a suit. It all comes down to understanding how poker hands rank and how to manage your bankroll and betting.

Poker Hand Ranking Rules

In poker, the traditional rules allow you to form the so-called poker hands with your two cards and three community cards. You may even use only one card from your hand with four of the community cards as long as you use at least one of yours to form your combination. There are ten possible ranks for your hand:

  • Royal Flush – From 10 to Ace of the same suit.
  • Straight Flush – Any sequence of five cards of the same suit.
  • Four of a Kind – Four cards with the same number.
  • Full House – Three of a Kind + Pair.
  • Flush – Any five cards of the same suit.
  • Straight – Sequence of five cards, regardless of the suit.
  • Three of a Kind – Three cards with the same number.
  • Two Pair – Two different pairs of cards.
  • Pair – Two cards with the same number.
  • High Card – The highest card in the absence of a better hand.

The order is important to know which hand beats what, being High Card the weakest possible combination. In the case of a tie, the highest card or sequence wins.

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Blinds & Ante

If the game variation you chose has the poker rule of “ante”, that means each player will place a tiny amount in the pot before the game even begins. On the other hand, the “small” and “big” blinds mark the beginning of the game, still before cards are dealt.

In that case, the two players next to the dealer pay the “small” and “big” blinds, respectively. After that, players check their cards and decide whether to bet or to fold. For many players, that is among the basic poker rules that are not completely fair. After all, only two players are obliged to place that first bet before seeing the cards, unlike with ante in stud poker games.

Player Actions

The concept of betting is most probably known even by those who have never played poker but tried something different in the Philippines, like sic bo or pai gow. However, that is not the only action possible in poker.

When it is your turn, your possible actions as per the poker game rules are:

  • Bet – You place your wager on the table.
  • Call – Match your opponents’ bets to stay playing.
  • Check – You decline to place a bet and give up.
  • Fold – Withdrawal from the game, abandoning the hand.
  • Raise – You put more than the necessary bet, raising the necessary wager.

“Notice that it is against poker rules to put more money on the table than you previously had when you started to play. Once you have your chips ready, those are the only ones you can actually bet.” – advice by Jason Anque, a casino expert writer at LuckyStarts.

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Betting Rounds

In the variations where you have community cards, which may be the first ones you will have contact with, the rounds are divided as follows:

  • Preflop – The moment when the bets before dealing cards are placed.
  • Flop – First bets after the first three community cards are put on the table.
  • Turn – The bet following the fourth community card.
  • River – The final bets after the final and fifth community card.

The first moment depends on whether the poker game rules imply ante or blinds. Then, players have the chance to continue or fold as the rounds happen and the community cards are dealt.

The Showdown

Finally, after all the rounds and player decisions, the ones still playing reach the so-called “showdown”. That is the moment when all players show off their cards, and the truth appears.

It is possible that some players might opt for bluffing along the way. In other words, calling and placing bets, sometimes even raising them, to pretend they have a very good hand when it is reasonable at best.

That is what makes poker rules capable of creating winners out of unlucky hands.

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Limit vs No Limit Poker Rules

When it comes to the limits of betting, some poker game rules might differ from others. No-limit betting poker games allow you to do as you please, including making the “all-in” bet with all that you have.

On the other hand, you can find two variations that do place a limit:

  • Pot-limit – In this variation, the size of the pot represents the upper limit of a player’s bet.
  • Fixed-limit – The limit is predetermined, and players cannot escape from it.

The Rules of Poker Variations

The basic poker rules shown here apply in most cases, but variations occur from one genre to another. After all, poker is a plural game with many versions. Some of them are more common than others, especially if you play live casinos online. That is why it is important to understand the basic differences between them.

Texas Hold’em Basic Rules

Texas Hold’em is the most popular variation of poker, in which two to ten players play with the poker rules stated above. Each player receives two cards, and five community cards are dealt on the table. There are four betting rounds, and the best hand, according to the basic poker ranking, wins.

Omaha Poker Rules

Omaha is quite similar to Texas Hold’em, with one particular and interesting difference: players receive four cards instead of only two. Still, the best combination of their poker hands must use only two of their cards and three community cards, never all four hand cards.

Basic Hi-Lo Poker Rules

Hi/Low poker fits within the Omaha variant. However, in this version, the pot is divided to award the highest hand as well as the lowest hand of five cards in the game.

Stud Poker Rules

Stud poker may come in several formats, including 5-card and 7-card stud. There are no hole cards (the ones given to players) or community cards (table), making it one of the most different variations mentioned here. Instead, players are given face-down and face-up cards. There are limits to raising a bet, and players try to get the best possible hand out of their cards considering the face-up cards on the table.

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Best Online Casinos to Play Poker

The online casino sites below have some or many of the poker variations shown here. Now that you are aware of the poker rules, you may start to give them a try in the free version before you start betting:

  • 22Bet – Besides the individual and live room games, there is a poker software with customized tables for players.
  • 20Bet – Excellent number of different poker games, including all existing variations, to play alone or live.
  • El Royale Casino – Few variations of poker with huge deposit bonuses.


Poker rules vary according to the variant you choose to play, but they tend to be similar.
Most games will have a complete guide with the information that you need. If you do not find it, you may read the specific page here on our website.
When playing online, you cannot do anything that is not allowed because the software won’t allow you to.
After learning the basic poker rules, you gain experience by playing!