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Rules of Poker: Basics and Specifics

There are, in truth, many, many rules to the game of poker. I’m not talking about each individual game of poker, however. I’m talking about the fact there are many different variations of the game, each with its own set of rules. Despite this, there are some rules that almost all of the variations follow, so if you’re just beginning, you’ll want to continue on here to learn the basics. Otherwise, you can learn the rules for the most popular poker games with the links provided at the bottom of this page.

Basic Poker Rules

The game of poker is played with a standard 52-card deck (although a few variations use multiple decks or use jokers). Card rankings, from high to low, are as follows: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace (Aces are high and low in most games). Five cards in sequence are known as a straight, but a straight cannot wrap around (for example, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, 2). The suits are all equal in terms of ranking value, and poker hands are usually made up of five cards.

In most games, the hand with the highest ranking wins, but in some games there are high-low splits, or the low hand may even win. A qualifying low hand consists of five cards of 8 or lower with no pair. Some poker variations may also use “wild” cards, which can be any card the player wants them to be to make their hand.

Poker Hand Rankings

There is a certain ranking system used to determine winning hands, and it is based largely on the odds of getting a particular class of poker hand. This is discussed in detail in our Poker Hand Rankings section.

The Most Popular Variations

Although there are countless variations of the game of poker, there are only a few that are played widely and regularly. To learn the ins and outs of a specific variation of poker, follow the links below.

Texas Holde’Em Rules
Omaha Hold’Em and Omaha Hi-Lo Rules
Draw Poker Rules
Five Card Stud Rules
Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Rules


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