Here you will find the absolutely basic and universal rules for the wonderful game of poker. These standard rules apply to every type of poker, so be sure to learn them all. Normally, any given online poker site will have the basic rules for poker, as well as specific rules for whatever games that they offer.

Poker uses a normal set of playing cards. Most of the variations use all 52 cards (the entire deck minus the Jokers) to play with. Occasionally, a poker variant will allow Jokers as "wild cards", but we won’t discuss those as they don’t pertain to online poker at all.

The ranks of cards in a deck are, from highest to lowest in value: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. The Ace can also be the lowest card, depending on the game, but it's usually the highest.

There are four suits in a deck (diamonds, hearts, spades, and clubs). Each of these suits has one of each card. No suit is worth more or less than another.

A dealer must then be determined. The process for doing this varies from game to game. Once the dealer has been designated, it is his or her job to deal all the players their cards. The exact number you're dealt, however, depends on what game you're playing. For example, in 7 Card Stud you're dealt 7 over a period of time; in Omaha you're dealt 4; and in Holdem you're dealt 2.

Betting Process in Poker

In most poker games, you need to ante some money just to be able to play. An ante is a small amount of money that you, and every other player, have to pay at the beginning of a hand. This money from the ante goes to form what's called the "pot", which is a collection of all the money that's being wagered. If you win the hand, you win the pot.

The ante can also be done as a “Blinds” structure, in which only two people have to put their money in initially. We’ll discuss how Blinds work in the specific poker game rules.

Once the cards are dealt, everyone places bets in a clockwise order. You have three options when it gets to you:

Call - Betting enough money to match someone else's bet. For example, if it's a $.50 ante (so you would already have $.50 in the pot) and someone bets $1, you would then have the option to "call" his bet by adding $.50 to the pot, or a total of $1.

Raise - Raising is fairly self-explanatory, but I'll go over it briefly. Basically, you bet an additional amount of money than what's currently being wagered. Let's say the ante is $1, and you decide to bet $4 to raise the amount to $5 (the limit on how much you can raise differs depending on the game). The other players would then have these three options, and would be required to at least call your $4 raise to stay in the game.

Fold - In short, you quit the hand. You don't have to pay whatever amount is being bet, but you are no longer in the game. You forfeit your hand and any money you had in the pot.

Each game has a certain amount of betting rounds. After the final round of betting is done, the player with the best poker hand wins the pot. If two or more players are tied for best hand, the pot is divided equally amongst them.

Poker Hand Rankings

This is one of the key things to know for playing poker. Memorize this, or even print it out as a reference sheet, as this is a necessity. If you think you may have the strongest possible hand, be sure to refer to this guide. You need to know the exact value of your hand.

How to read the cards: A - Ace, K - King, Q - Queen, J - Jack, T – Ten. The rest are just as they appear.

1. Royal Flush - Best possible hand. Period. Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, all of the same suit.

2. Straight Flush - Next best thing. This is where you have a straight with cards that are all of the same suit. Example: 5-6-7-8-9 of spades. NOTE: See the bottom of this guide for information on Aces in straights.

3. Four of a Kind - Four cards of the same rank, such as four twos or four Jacks. If more than one player has four of a kind, the player who has the highest cards wins. Example: Four Kings beats four Jacks.

4. Full House - A full house is when you have three of a kind and two of a kind. For example, if you had 8-8-4-4-4, you would have a full house. If there are two full houses, the person with the highest three of a kind wins.

5. Flush - This is 5 cards which are all of the same suit. For example, 4-9-A-T-7 of diamonds is a flush. It can be any combination. Note: If all the cards are just the same color, it does nothing to affect your hand ranking. If flushes should happen to tie, use the highest flushed card to determine the winner.

6. Straight - This is 5 cards in sequence of ranking. For example, 3-4-5-6-7. They can be of any suit. NOTE: See the bottom of this guide for information on Aces in straights. If there is more than one straight, the highest
straight wins.

7. Three of a Kind - Three cards of the same rank with any other two cards that are not a pair (that would be a full house). Again, if there is a tie, the highest ranked three of a kind wins the hand.

8. Two Pair - Two separate pairs of cards and any fifth card. The highest-ranking pair wins ties. If both hands happen to have the same high pair, the second pair would win; if both pairs are the same, the highest fifth card (called the kicker) wins.

9. Pair - Two cards of identical rank. For example, if you had a hand that was 6-T-2-Q-T, you would have a pair of tens. Highest pair wins; if there is a tie, the hand with the highest card (called the kicker) wins.

10. High Card - If nobody has any of the aforementioned hands, the decision is based on whoever has the highest ranked card. The high card is also used to decide the winner of ties, in which it’s called the kicker.

Aces in straights: An Ace in a straight can count as either a high card, or a low card. For example, it could be 10-J-Q-K-A, or A-2-3-4-5. It does not, however, wrap around; you cannot have Q-K-A-2-3, for example.

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