Universal Rules of the Game of Poker

Some would say that trying to define the rules of the game of poker is impossible; the game comes in so many versions, with new variations appearing on a regular basis, all with their own unique rules. However, in any five-card version of poker, there are at least three rules that always apply, so the specific quirks of each variation function as add-ons rather than replacements. A player thoroughly familiar with these universal rules can pick up new variations more easily, as they will be building on what all variations have in common. Herewith, then, are three standard rules of the game of poker relating to any version using five-card hands:

Poker is a One-Pack Game

In all forms of poker, all hands are dealt from one 52-card pack, although one or two jokers may also be used. This means the entire pack is in play for every hand, and players can partially calculate the probability of certain other cards being dealt based on that knowledge. Some variations of the rules of the game of poker provide for wild cards rather than jokers, such as the twos or the one-eyed jacks; nevertheless, these wild cards are part of the standard pack, and not additions to it.

Hand Ranking is All that Matters

There are no suit rankings in poker; hands compete purely on the strength of card-combination rankings. In best online pokies Australia variations that include jokers or wild cards, five of a kind is the highest ranking possible, and five aces the strongest hand. The next-highest ranking (and the highest possible hand in versions that don’t use jokers or wild cards) is the straight flush: five consecutive cards of the same suit. The strongest straight flush, a royal flush, is a suited 10, J, Q, K, A. In descending order, the rankings thereafter are four of a kind, a full house (three of a kind plus a pair), a flush (five cards of the same suit), a straight (five consecutive cards of any suit), three of a kind, two pairs, one pair and no pair (a hand with none of these combinations, which is ranked according to its highest card). This ranking hierarchy is standard in all versions, whatever rules of the game of poker are being played. In the event of a tie, for instance when two winning players have hands containing identical two pairs, the highest-ranked side card decides the winner. Any two winning hands of identical strength, including side cards, result in a split pot.

There’s Always Something on the Table

Players must bet to be dealt a hand in any version of poker. Some versions require an ante bet from each player at the table before any cards are dealt; in most cases the ante will be half the minimum bet during play. Other versions, particularly hold’em poker, will require a big blind and a small blind bet from two players at the table, usually equal to a standard bet and half a standard bet respectively. Both blinds will rotate around the table at each new hand, so all players share these blind bets equally over time. Players also get at least one chance (and three or four chances in many versions) to bet after the deal, so all five-card versions of poker ensure there is always something worth winning in the pot on every hand.