Poker is a great game, but it can be difficult to jump right in and play if you’ve never played before. This is especially true when it comes to playing different forms of poker, each of which has its own rules and structure to follow.
Luckily, we’ve put together a guide that will help you get started in a number of different poker games. These poker instructions won’t make you a poker pro, but they will allow you to step into a game with confidence and understand what’s going on at the table.
General Poker Instructions
Most poker games are played with a standard, 52-card deck of cards. The goal is usually to make the best five-card poker hand, though you may have more than five cards to choose from in order to make that hand. The following rankings should help you understand which hands are best:
- Straight Flush: This hand is the strongest in poker. It is made up of five cards of consecutive ranks, all of which are the same suit. If you make this hand with the highest possible cards (ten through ace), you’ve made a Royal Flush – the very best hand possible!
- Four of a Kind: This hand contains four cards of the same rank.
- Full House: This hand contains three cards of one rank, and two cards of a separate rank.
- Flush: This hand contains five cards of the same suit.
- Straight: This hand contains five cards of consecutive ranks. Aces can play either low (A2345) or high (TJQKA).
- Three of a Kind: This hand contains three cards of the same rank.
- Two Pair: This hand contains two cards of one rank, and two cards of another rank.
- One Pair: This hand contains two cards of the same rank.
- High Card: This group contains all hands that don’t fit into the above groups; hands are ranked instead by the rank of their highest card.
The object of the game is to make the strongest hand possible, as the player with the best hand will win the pot and the end of each hand. Alternately, you may also win a pot by enticing all other players to fold their hands, and being the only player remaining.
Generally speaking, players will play in turn starting to the left of the dealer, with play continuing clockwise around the table. Players will have the option to call the current bet, raise the bet, or fold their hand. If no bets have been made in a given betting round, players can choose to make the first bet or check (pass).
Texas Hold’em Poker Instructions
In Texas Hold’em, each player receives two cards at the beginning of the hand, face down. Players may also make use of five community cards in the middle of the table in making their five-card hand. In this version of poker, play begins with two players to the left of the dealer button making forced bets known as “blinds.” Play then proceeds clockwise. After the first round of betting ends, the dealer places the first three community cards on the table. After the next round, a fourth community card is dealt; after the third round, the fifth is dealt. Finally, after the final betting round, all remaining players show their cards, with the best hand winning the pot. Players may use any combination of their two hole cards and the five community cards in order to make their hand.
Omaha Poker Instructions
Omaha is played almost identically to Texas Hold’em, with a couple of notable exceptions. First of all, players are given four cards face down at the beginning of each hand, rather than two. However, players are required to use exactly two of their hole cards and three of the community cards to make their final five card hand; other combinations are not permissible. Often, Omaha is played in a “hi/lo” format, where half of the pot is won by the player with the lowest qualifying hand (typically, all cards in a hand must be unpaired and eight or lower to win the low half of the pot).
Seven Card Stud Poker Instructions
Seven Card Stud is played differently than the above games. For starters, there are no blinds; rather, all players must pay a small ante at the start of each hand. When the hand begins, all players are dealt two cards face down, and one card face up. The player with the lowest face up card showing must make the “bring-in” bet, after which play proceeds clockwise as normal. On each betting round after the first, betting begins with the player who has the best poker hand showing (since there are never more than four cards showing, straights and flushes do not count for this purpose).
Additional betting rounds are held as more cards are dealt; a 4th card is dealt to each player face up on one round, followed by a 5th card (face up) on the next, and a 6th card (again, face up) on the next. Before the final round of betting, a 7th card is dealt face down to each player. After the final round, all remaining players showdown their hands as normal; players may use any five cards from their hand, with the best hand winning the pot. As in Omaha, hi/lo games are often played with Seven Card Stud.