A Complete Guidebook on Poker Rules and Variants

Poker Rules

Texas Holdem is one of the most popular variants played by poker fans around the world. This is true because most of the popular tournaments across the world like the World Series of Poker (WSOP), World Poker Tour (WPT), and European Poker Tour (EPT) all use this poker variant. The origin of the game can be traced back to early 1900 when it was officially played in Robstown, Texas whereas some believe that it could have been played a long time before that.

Texas Hold’em Poker

The popularity of the game slowly spread through the whole of Texas and only during the 1960s it is said to have reached the betting mecca, Las Vegas. And soon it became hugely popular that in the 1970s most of the casinos in Vegas included this poker variant and many Vegas Poker tournaments became popular. The game attracted the attention of the world when the events in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) were documented in the book, “The Biggest Game in Town”. The game is simple to learn and difficult to master as there are hundreds of game situations and there is a famous saying about this game that goes “it takes a moment to learn, but a lifetime to master”. The objective of the game is to show the highest possible poker hand than your competitors in a hand of five cards.

When it comes to poker rules, almost everyone remembers Texas Holdem, but there are a lot more variants of this game available online. Yes, Hold’em is one of the most popular poker games that attract a major portion of the players around the world. But do you know that there are a vast number of poker games available that can provide you with fun and entertainment? If you are interested to know more about the best poker variations then continue to read through this guide. We’ll be providing you with the list of top variants, and different rules, you will learn how to play along with the pros and cons of every game, strategy, hand rankings & more.

Poker Variants

For some people all these poker categories will be new and being a beginner means that you will need to learn at least one of these to start your new poker journey. Which one you choose is entirely up to you and they all vary and have different pros and cons. Study the different ones here and decide which one you want to focus on and learn more about. For the experienced one, maybe one or two of these categories are new. In this guide, you will learn about them all and hence become a better poker player.

  • Draw Poker
  • Stud Poker
  • Community Card Poker

Draw Poker

Players are dealt with a hand comprising completely face-hidden cards. Players can change their hands by discarding cards they don’t want and then getting new cards. Five-card draw is one of the most popular variants of Draw Poker and has been around for a very long time. Draw poker has different rules but the goal is the same, to score the best hand by changing cards so your hand gets better than your opponent. This form of play is quite straight on and doesn’t take much practice to learn. It is the most classic form of poker and suits the beginner very well.

Stud Poker

Players are dealt with a hand comprising of both face-up and face-hidden cards with several rounds of betting. Some of the popular variants of stud poker are 5-card stud and 7 card stud. This type of poker is a little bit more advanced yet quite easy to learn, especially if you played traditional poker before. The goal here is the same, however; to get the best hand by using the cards you are being dealt.

Community Card Poker

Here players are dealt with an incomplete hand and a similar number of face-up cards are dealt on the poker table. The player that comes up with the best 5-card hand is the winner. Some of the popular variants of community card poker are Texas Holdem and Omaha. Holdem skyrocketed in popularity at the end of the 20th century, mainly thanks to online poker. Today this version of poker is the most popular one online and is being played by hundreds of thousands of players all around the globe. Here there are more tactics involved than in the other variations of poker, not only is the best hand the winning one but you also have to outsmart your opponent to win the pot.

Poker Rules

In Texas Hold’em, poker players are dealt two-hole cards each and then five community cards are dealt to allow players to make the best five-card combinations. During the gameplay, players have the option to check, call, raise or fold. The charm with Texas Hold’em is that you can win with a really bad hand, you just have to let your opponents believe that you have the stronger hand. But this takes practice, experience, and you need to believe in your ability. But before you start bluffing it is good to know the basic strategies, so here is one strategy that you can use:

  • The five cards are dealt in 3 stages (as long as the action continues)
  • The first stage is called Flop, where three cards are dealt and the players can start placing their bets
  • Then in the second stage Turn, one more card is dealt
  • Then one more in the final stage called River

Poker Actions

Playing Texas Hold’em means that you have a few options to choose between when it is your turn. Learning these is simple and once you have you are ready to play Texas Hold’em. But knowing when to use them takes a lot of experience because anyone can raise but the ability to raise to get your opponent to fold is more difficult. So in Texas Hold’em you do not only play your hand but you play your opponent’s hand. So these are the basic phrases that you need to know to be able to play.

  • CHECK is the most common deceptive play used by most players where you just pass on your round to another player without doing any action. It means you are waiting for the next stage to decide upon your option. It does not necessarily mean that you have a weak hand since you can trap someone by checking with a good hand and waiting for them to bet.
  • RAISE is a possible option if you see that you already have some combination and think that it could be a winning hand. Or if you want to scare your opponents and make them fold, you can raise the bet.
  • Players who think that they got a strong enough hand to continue but decide against betting more money will CALL.
  • If you think that you don’t have a winning hand and don’t want to risk your money/chips, then you can simply FOLD and let other players continue with the action.

Dealer Button

In Texas Holdem, the game moves clockwise where the dealer is a player which is denoted by a round disc in front of a player. After each round, the round disc or the button moves to the left and that player becomes the dealer. But when you are playing in live poker rooms, there is a separate dealer who takes care of dealing the cards and supervising the action throughout the game.


The players to the left of the dealer need to post blinds or forced bets. Yes, the first player to the left of the dealer needs to place a small blind and the next player need to post a big blind. In other words, blinds mean you are placing bets without even seeing the 2-hole cards, which makes the game more interesting. In tournaments, players can even raise the blind amounts, but in cash games, the blind amount stays the same. The big blind is double the amount of the small blind. For example, if the first player posts a small blind of $1, then the big blind need to be $2.

Fun fact: Poker has been featured in many popular movies such as James Bond: Casino Royale

Betting Rounds

1. First Betting Round: Preflop

Once each player is dealt with 2 cards, the betting starts with the first two players to the left of the players posting blinds. The player next to the big blind player needs to play next and he can either call, raise or fold the cards. And once the player folds, he can no longer take part in the round.

If he chooses to raise the bet, then the amount he can raise depends on the type of game he is playing. For example, in No-Limit Hold’em, the minimum raise should be twice the amount of the big blind and the maximum raise amount can be all the chips the player has in possession. It is called the “all-in” bet, where the player bets all his amount in the hand.

Once the player next to the big blinds plays, the action continues to the players around the table in a clockwise direction, and every player has the same kind of options as to whether to call, raise or fold. Once all players complete their play, the pre-flop stage is done and the action moves on to the next stage “the flop”.

2. Second Betting Round: The Flop

In this round, the first three cards are dealt face-up and the second-round betting starts. Players who have folded in the pre-flop stage cannot take part any longer in the game. The action starts with the first remaining player to the left of the dealer. Here the players are provided with an additional option “Check” along with other options to raise, call or fold. If a player calls “Check” the action moves on to the next player. In real poker tables, normally the players tap their hand onto the table to indicate they are checking. Once all players complete their play, the flop round gets completed and moves on to the next round “the turn”. Generally, your poker odds of winning the pot go down if there is a large number of players on the table.

3. Third Betting Round: The Turn

In this round, along with the three community cards, a fourth card is dealt face up and the betting starts right away. And the players have all four similar options like the previous round to check, call, fold, or raise.

4. Final Betting Round: The River

The next stage is “The River”, where an additional card is dealt face-up to start the betting. This is officially the last round of betting, but players can go on raising the bets and the rounds continue until someone calls.

5. The Showdown

If all remaining players continue their bets in the “the river” round, then all players need to reveal their two-hole cards and the winner with the highest hand will be announced. This is what it all comes down to. A really good poker player will almost know by now what kind of hand the opponent has and losing at this point could be a big blow to the player’s stack of chips, cause it usually takes a lot of chips to participate in the game until this point.

Texas Holdem Poker Hands

Before you play online poker, you also need to understand the Texas Holdem Hand Combination Rankings. See the image below which shows the rankings in detail. Royal Flush is the top-ranked hand and anyone with this set of cards is the winner of the pot undoubtedly. It is pretty easy to understand poker hand rankings and they are the same for all the most popular games including No-Limit Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud.

  • AA (Pair of Aces) is the best possible starting hand
  • 72 is the worst possible starting hand
  • REMEMBER: You can improve your starting hand with the community cards

Poker Hand Rankings

To be able to play and win a player needs to know what hands are the winning hands. Knowing this is the most important thing to know before one engages in a hand of poker. A royal flush is the most difficult one to get and is rarely seen at any given poker table, some poker players will play their entire life without actually scoring a royal flush.

poker rules

Poker Hand Rankings (click to enlarge)

Poker Hand Odds

Here you see the odds (probability) for getting different five-card poker hand combinations. For you to get a royal flush it takes more than 600.000 hands which some players won’t play in their entire life. A pair however will come almost one time every second time which is more likely.

  • ROYAL FLUSH: 1 in 649,740 (0.000154%)
  • STRAIGHT FLUSH: 1 in 72,193.33 (0.00139%)
  • FOUR OF A KIND: 1 in 4,165 (0.0240%)
  • FULL HOUSE: 1 in 694.16 (0.1441%)
  • FLUSH: 1 in 508.80 (0.1965%)
  • STRAIGHT: 1 in 254.80 (0.3925%)
  • THREE OF A KIND: 1 in 47.32 (2.1128%)
  • TWO PAIR: 1 in 21.03 (4.7539%)
  • ONE PAIR: 1 in 2.36 (42.2569%)
  • NO PAIR: 1 in 1.99 (50.1177%)

Poker Strategy Tips

If you are just a beginner, then master your strategy by learning how to play poker.  Play low-limit poker games and acclimatize yourself with the basics of the game. There are a lot of poker training schools that can help you with hand analysis, mindset, hand reading, aggression, tilt control, etc.

Poker is all about getting the best hand possible and to get that one, you need to be patient and should not get emotional in the game. According to the fundamental theorem of poker introduced by David Sklansky states that: “Every time you play a hand differently from the way you would have played it if you could see all your opponent’s cards, they gain; and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose. Conversely, every time opponents play their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you gain; and every time they play their hands the same way they would have played if they could see all your cards, you lose”.

  • Don’t take part in every round and play very aggressively.
  • Bluffing is another skill that you need to develop if you want to win more hands.
  • When you have strong hands, try to build the pot and protect your equity.
  • Get the latest tips for beginners & experts (training sites, private coaches).
  • Sometimes folding is good, to win in the long run you have to make a lot of good laydowns.

Pot-Limit Omaha Rules

Omaha is another variant of poker where players looking to make some bigger swings can opt for this game. In Omaha, players are dealt with 4 hole cards instead of 2 hole cards, but out of the 4 hole cards, players can only use two from their hand. Like Texas Holdem, in Omaha poker also five community cards are dealt in 3 rounds flop, turn, and river. And the betting rounds also have the same kind of rules as the Texas Holdem poker game.

How to Play Pot-Limit Omaha

Pot Limit Omaha is played similarly to Texas Holdem, where two players next to the dealer start with a small blind and big blind and the action continues across the table to the other players in a clockwise direction. The main difference here is in Omaha Poker, unlike Texas Holdem where instead of 2 hole cards, four hole cards are dealt.

  • The other major difference between Omaha and Texas Holdem is that, unlike the latter where the users can combine the 2 hole cards and the five community cards to form a high hand.
  • In Omaha, the players can only use 3 of the five community cards and need to use 2 of 4 hole cards.
  • So even if the five community cards have K♠ 9♠ Q♠ Q♥ 5♠ and the player has A♠ 2♥ 4♥ 5♣ the player cannot claim a straight flush. Because they need to use two from their 4 hole cards and 3 from the community cards and hence cannot claim it. But instead, if they have K♠ 9♠ Q♠ Q♥ 5♠ and hole cards A♠ 2♥ 4♥ 7♠, then they can claim the straight flush.
  • Betting works like Texas Holdem where after the small and big blinds, the bets are placed in each round including the preflop, flop, the turn, and the river.

Texas Holdem versus Omaha

Pot-limit Omaha or Omaha High is a fast-paced action game and that is the reason this poker variant is hugely popular among high-stakes poker players. Since the players are dealt with 4 holes cards instead of 2 cards, the variations that each player can get is much higher than in Texas Holdem and that is the reason that player making nuts is much higher in Omaha high.

When compared to Texas Holdem, even having a two pair can make you a winning hand, but in PLO (Pot Limit Omaha) it is different.

Take for example, if the four hole cards dealt for you are 10♠9♠8♥7♥ and during the river stage, if the community cards on the table are 7♠9♥K♥J♣2♦. Then you have a winning hand when you combine the 10 and 8 in your hand along with the 7,9 and J to form a Jack high straight (J♣10♠9♥8♥7♠). But beware, if someone holds a Queen high straight can defeat you easily. Hence when the betting gets heavier you need to rethink your best poker strategy and play accordingly.

7-card stud

Seven Card Stud was another highly popular poker variant before Hold’em was introduced into the casinos. The game can be played with a minimum of 2 players and a maximum of 8 players and the major difference between 7 card stud and Hold’em is that in 7 card stud there is no flop stage and there are no community cards dealt as well in some games.

The game is played by dealing 2 cards face down and one card face up before the first betting round starts and then 3 cards face up are dealt allowing the players to place their bet after every face-up card is dealt. Then it is followed by a face-down card, the last round of betting gets completed and the player with the best 5-card wins the pot. In fixed-limit 7-card stud games, in the first two rounds only smaller bets are allowed and the larger bets are allowed when the fifth card is dealt.

7 card stud strategy

As you can see from the picture above, it clearly shows how the cards are dealt in the 7-card stud game. Each player is dealt with two face-down cards called the hole cards and then a face-up card called the door card or the third street is dealt. With these 3 cards on hand, the player can easily decide whether to continue with the hand or not. In total, 7 cards are dealt and it is up to the player to come up with the best 5-card combination. The hand rankings or the winning poker sequence are similar to Texas Holdem as even here the Royal Flush is the best winning hand and a set of cards with no pair is the worst possible hand.

Antes, bring-in, and betting

While players place blinds as forced bets in Texas Holdem, in 7-card stud poker, the forced bet is called ante and needs to be placed by every player in the table even before the 3 cards are dealt. So even before the cards are dealt, there is always some amount in the pot to start and the player who has the lowest ranking door card needs to post the bring-in. So the person shall either bet with the minimum $5  bring-in amount or can complete by posting an amount of $10. And the betting action continues as every player has the option to either call, raise or fold. Once the betting is done, the players are dealt the fourth street card. And the gameplay differs in 7-card stud as the player who starts after the fourth street card is dealt is not the player who is next to the left of the dealer, but the person holding the high-ranking door card.

Chinese Poker

Chinese Poker is another popular poker variant and only with a basic knowledge of poker can start playing this game. And one of the main reasons that beginners love to play this game is there is a lot of luck needed than skill to win. Hence, even beginners can make good winning if luck is on their side.

Chinese Poker Rules

Chinese poker involves a maximum of four persons and every player is dealt with 13 cards from a single deck of cards. And the players need to divide their cards into 3 poker hands or sets also called a setting. They need to have 2 sets of 5 cards each and the third set consisting of 3 cards.

  • BACK HAND: 5 cards
  • MIDDLE HAND: 5 cards
  • FRONT HAND: 3 cards

The two sets comprising 5 cards each are called the middle and the back and the last set is called the front. And while dividing the set the players need to place the highest-ranking card in the back, while the lowest-ranking cards need to be placed in the front. Remember the back hand needs to be stronger than the middle hand and the front as you can’t have a flush in the middle and a straight in the middle. Once all the players have completed dividing 3 sets of cards and the action starts in a clockwise direction and players need to announce whether they are willing to play or fold. And before the players reveal their hands, they also need to announce their royalties. And the player who has the 3 flushes or 3 straights wins automatically irrespective of what other players have got in their hands.

But normally the winner is considered by comparing both the hands of the player. First, the top hand is compared, then the middle, and lastly the bottom. The scoring system in Chinese poker works in terms of units, where players agree upon a certain amount of money before play starts. And once the 13 cards are dealt and players complete arranging in 3 sets, back, middle and front, each set is compared to the other player and the player with the best hand in that particular set collects one unit from the other player. So even if you are second best, you still can win some good money at the Chinese poker game. In some variants of Chinese poker, bonus points are awarded to players who win 2-3 hands. Because there are different stakes involved in the game, the same game can be played by different players at different stakes. For example, Player X can bet with Player Y for $100 per unit whereas other players can play for $10 per unit. The most popular scoring systems in place are the 2-4 and 1-6 scoring methods.

2-4 Chinese Poker Scoring system

In the 2-4 Chinese Poker scoring system, a player is awarded 1 unit for every hand they win and if they win either 2 out of 3 hands or all 3 hands an additional unit is awarded. But if there is a tie in one hand then no money is won by any person or if both the person wins one unit also then no money is exchanged.

1-6 Chinese Poker Scoring system

In the 1-6 Chinese Poker scoring system, one unit is awarded for every hand they win and 3 bonus units are awarded if they win all 3 hands.

Open-face Chinese Poker

In this Chinese Poker variation, players are dealt five cards in the beginning. These cards are arranged face up on the table to the back, middle, and front hands. The cards cannot be rearranged later. Then the players receive a single card at a time for the remaining 8 cards. This means it’s possible to make an illegal hand.


Razz is another poker variant that became popular in the early 2000s and can be played with 2-8 players. It is a stud variant and similar to 7 card stud poker, there are no flop or community cards here. And the objective is to get the lowest possible 5-card hand out of the 7 cards.

Razz Rules

The gameplay is very much similar to the 7-card stud poker game where every player is dealt with 2 face-up cards and a single face-down card. Then 3 cards are dealt face-up and betting starts after every card is dealt and the players can decide whether to continue with the game or not after the first three cards are dealt. The two face-down cards are called the hole cards and the face-down card is the door card. The players who don’t fold till the 7th street will be dealt with the last card face down and out of the 7 cards, the players need to come up with the best 5-card hand. And once 3 cards are dealt including the 2-hole cards and the door card, the betting round starts.

Razz Betting Rounds

In Razz, flushes and straights don’t count. The best hand in RAZZ is the lowest straight (A-2-3-4-5) since ACE is of the lowest value here. A player with A-2-3-4-7 loses to a player holding 2-3-4-5-6 since 6 is lower than 7.

  • The player with the highest value door card must bring.
  • Here Aces are the lowest and hence King is the high card.
  • If two players have King cards, then the suits decide the player with the high card (clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades) where spade is the highest suit.
  • The player having the high card can either bet an amount equal to the ante or complete the bet by placing an amount equivalent to the small bet.
  • The action starts with the player with the lowest valued card.


This guide should have provided you with all the information you needed about the online poker variations, their rules, hand combinations, and gameplay. To start playing poker is quite easy and we presented a number of different sites where you can play your first hand. But if you want to begin your poker career on a good note and with greater luck we suggest you read our guides which we presented above. If you have done so already we can only congratulate you, you are now a player with a greater chance of winning more in your next session. And remember, at poker, you don’t play your cards, you play your opponents. Good luck!


Is Texas Hold'em Poker easier to learn than Omaha?

Both are very similar, once you master Texas Hold'em, it won't be hard to learn Pot Limit Omaha.

Can you play poker without knowing the rules?

If you want to play poker with money, it is best that you learn the rules and understand the basics.

Where should I play once I learn the rules?

Make sure to only visit online poker sites recommended by PokCas.com, those are safe options plus, you may get additional promotions for being our player.