How to Play Poker

If you want to learn how to play poker, you're on the right page. We have listed poker rules for several poker games, and plan to add even more rules in the future:

List of Poker Rules:

Here are the poker rules pages we have written so far:

Our site is still going through a full redesign, so expect to see more rules soon. In the meantime, let's review a few principles that apply to almost every poker game:

Poker Hand Rankings

Ninety-nine percent of poker games use the same hand ranking system, which dictates that players make their best five card poker hand, where Aces are highest and Twos are lowest. The only games that use a different system are lowball or hi/low games. Normal poker games like Texas Hold'em and Omaha use the following hand rankings:

Hand Explanation Example
Royal Flush Ace-Ten of the same suit A-K-Q-J-T of Hearts
Straight Flush Five consecutive cards of the same suit 3-4-5-6-7 of Hearts
Four of a Kind Four cards of equal numerical value 6-6-6-6-7
Full House Three cards of one numerical value, and two of another A-A-A-7-7
Flush Any five cards of the same suit (not consecutive) 2-6-T-J-K of Hearts
Straight Five consecutive cards of varying suits 3-4-5-6-7 Unsuited
Three of a Kind Three cards of the same value, plus any two 5-5-5-K-J
Two Pair Two sets of cards with equal numerical value 5-5-7-7-A
Pair Two cards with equal numerical value 5-5-8-9-T
High Card Five cards with varying suits and varying values A-K-6-4-3 Unsuited

If two players have the same category of hand, whoever has the highest version of that hand wins. For example, if two players have three of a kind, whoever's three of a kind is highest would win. So, three of a kind Aces beats three of a kind Kings.

In the case of two two pairs, whoever's highest pair is highest wins. So, a pair of Aces and a pair of Deuces would beat a pair of Kings and a pair of Queens.


If two players have the same hand, we turn to "Kickers" to determine the outcome. Kickers are the seemingly useless cards in a hand, such as the two unmatched cards in a three of a kind. Whoever's kickers are highest wins the pot. So, K-K-K-A-7 beats K-K-K-4-2 because the A-7 kicker beats the 4-2 kicker.

Antes and Blinds

Another feature that is common in most poker rules is a forced bet before each hand. These forced bets are in place to create action, even if everyone would rather fold. Forced bets come in two forms - antes and blinds. Some games (like Seven Card Stud) use only antes, some games (like Texas Hold'em) use only blinds, and sometimes (like in the late stages of a poker tournament) both blinds and antes are utilized.


Antes are a small bet that is paid by every single player prior to the dealing of the cards. Antes are usually about 1/10th the size of the small bet at the table. So if you were playing a $10/$20 Seven Card Stud game, the ante would probably be $1. Every single player must post the ante before receiving his/her cards, and all of the antes go into the pot.


Blinds are two small bets that are paid by two players prior to the dealing of the cards. The player to the direct left of the dealer pays the small blind, and the player to the direct left of the small blind pays the big blind (the big blind is two seats to the left of the dealer).

The big blind is usually equal to the size of one small bet, so if you were playing a $1/$2 Fixed Limit Hold'em game, the big blind would be $1. The small blind is almost always 1/2 the size of the big blind, so in this case the small blind would be $0.50.

One exception to this rule is in No Limit games. In No Limit games the blinds are equal to the stakes posted on the table. So, a $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em game would feature a $1 small blind and a $2 big blind.

Further Reading

So far we have only listed the rules for a few poker games, so if you would like to learn other poker rules make sure to check out these sites:

  • - Lists dozens of poker rules including wild card games.