Poker is an exciting game which is very accessible as it only requires a standard deck of 52 cards. In addition to being accessible it also comes in many forms and formats as there are many different variants of poker games available and, each variant has its own set of poker rules. If you're a total beginner at poker please check out our beginner's guide on how to play poker to learn the ropes fast. If you're looking for strategy tips for each poker game, check out our comprehensive poker strategy section with plenty of helpful articles for poker beginners.
In the game of poker, players combine their hole cards with the community cards to make the best possible 5-card poker hand. Both hole cards, one hole card or no hole cards (play the board) can be used to comprise a hand. Depending on the poker game you are playing, the rules may vary slightly, but the essence of the game remains roughly the same. For most poker variants you will only need a deck of cards and some poker chips, learn how to use the community cards to build the best poker hand and learn all the betting rounds in various poker variants.
In this article we will dive in to some of the most popular poker variants to teach you basics and how to become a better poker player.
Texas Hold'em Poker is the most popular poker game, or poker variation, in the world and the one you've most likely seen played on TV. It is also the most popular poker game in home poker games. Holdem is a community card game that can be played with anywhere from 2-10 players and most often it is played in No-Limit format - meaning any player can put all of his or her chips in at any time. This goes in both cash games and poker tournaments. Here's a quick spin through the basic poker rules of Texas Holdem; for a more extensive look, head to our Texas Holdem rules page.
See our poker rules for all-in situations and our side pot calculator here.
As you can see from our extensive list of specific poker game rules pages above, poker games can be played in many different poker variants. For starters you can play Texas Hold'em in both cash games and tournament format, which changes the rules and strategy substantially.
Many different varieties of Hold'em poker tournaments also have different poker rules and processes (Turbo, Bounty, Progressive Knockout, Spin & Go, Limit Games, etc) so be sure you're well aware of the rules of the particular poker tournament you're playing. If it's a form of Texas Hold'em, though, the basic rules of hand rankings, dealing and betting will be fairly consistent and easy to pick up.
The next most popular form of poker to Texas Hold'em, especially at online poker sites and in online poker games, is definitely Pot Limit Omaha, which has many similarities in basic poker rules to Hold'em but a couple of key differences. Some of the biggest differences are:
It seems like a small difference but it alters the optimal strategy for each game substantially. We highly recommend you try it out and see just how much fun Omaha poker can be. For further reading, check our articles here:
And, of course, we also recommend our complete guide to the rules of Pot Limit Omaha poker:
If you dive into any number of poker's multitude of great variations, like draw games, lowball games, Limit games, Hi-Lo Games, Chinese Poker etc, you will need to learn specific poker rules for each poker game. Again, check our our extensive list of poker game rules above. If there's a poker variation you'd like to learn how to play and we don't have a guide for it, let us know in the comments and we'll do one up for you!
Like most other games and sports, poker does have an organization managing the rules. This is the professional Tournament Directors Association (also often called the Poker TDA). Founded in 2001 by poker players Matt Savage, Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher and David Lamb to standardize the rules of poker, the TDA has grown in leaps and bounds since.
Today it has more than 2,500 members in 63 countries around the world. There are managers of large live- and online poker rooms, circuits, poker leagues or independent tournaments. They meet every two years at the "Poker TDA Summit" to review the rules and put in place new reforms. Note that WSOP Tournament Director Jack Effel sits on the board of directors.
You can read the full Poker Tournament Rules document on their website. These poker rules are used in most major tournaments around the world.
As poker has truly become an international game over the past decade there has been growing interest in building a consistent, worldwide set of rules for poker tournaments and games.
Many poker players from around the world face the same problem where players have to adapt to the different rules of each destination, which tends to increase the risks of misunderstandings and conflicts.
Spearheaded by famed poker professional Marcel Luske of the Netherlands, the International Poker Federation (FIDPA) has done just that. They compiled a set of rules that, if adopted internationally, will avoid the vast majority of disputes that can be seen in casinos or poker tournaments around the world.
The founding idea of FIDPA is as simple as it is effective: adopting a set of international poker rules. These 81 rules, freely downloadable on the FIDPA website, were established in 2008.