Below you’ll find step-by-step rules guides to all the most popular variations of poker including Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, Razz and 2-7 Triple Draw.
You’ll also find plenty of rules for all kinds of lesser known poker games from Strip Poker and Pineapple to 5-Card Draw and Badugi.
Included in our extensive poker rules guides are definitions for common poker terms (blinds, button, position, etc.), detailed explanations for how to make bets and the progression of betting rounds, how to determine the winning hand at showdown and much more.
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.
Basic Texas Holdem Poker Rules
Texas Hold'em Poker is the most popular poker variation in the world and the one you've most likely seen played on TV.
Holdem is a community card game that can be played with anywhere from 2-10 players and most often you'll find in No-Limit format - meaning any player can put all of his or her chips in at any time. Here's a quick spin through the basic rules of Texas Holdem; for a more extensive look, head to our Texas Holdem rules page.
One player acts as dealer (in a casino this is obviously provided). This position is called the button and it rotates clockwise after every hand.
The two players to the left of the dealer are called the small blind and the big blind, respectively.
These two positions require forced bets of a pre-determined amount and are the only players to put money in the pot before the cards are dealt (if no ante in place).
Every player then receives two cards face down. These are called "hole" cards.
Once all hole cards have been dealt to each player the first betting round begins with the player sitting immediately to the left of the big blind. This player can fold, call (match the amount of the big blind) or bet.
Betting then continues clockwise with each player having the option to fold, call the amount of the highest bet before them, bet (if no one before them has bet) or raise (if another player has made a bet).
When the first betting round is completed, three community cards are flipped face up on the table. This is called "The Flop."
The second round of betting begins with the first remaining player seated to the left of the button. The betting resumes, clockwise, with each player having the option to check (if no bet in front of them), bet (or raise if a bet before them), call or fold.
When the second round of betting is finished, a fourth community card is flipped face up on the table. This is called the turn.
The third round of betting commences with the first remaining player sitting to the left of the button.
When the third round of betting is over a fifth community card is flipped face up on the table. This is called the river.
The fourth and final round of bets begins again with the first player sitting to the left of the button and still in play and operating on the same principle as the previous ones.
If two or more players are left in the hand after the final betting round, they enter into a "showdown." All players left reveal their hands and the player with the highest 5-card poker hand wins. See Poker Hand Rankings here.
Players make up their best 5-card poker hand by using one, two or none of their hole cards combined with the 5 community cards on the board.
As you can see from our extensive list of rules pages above, poker can be played in many different forms and formats. For starters you can play Texas Hold'em in both cash game and tournament format, which changes the rules and strategy substantially.
Many different varieties of Hold'em poker tournaments also have different rules and processes (Turbo, Bounty, Progressive Knockout, Spin & Go, 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 is definitely Omaha, which has many rules similarities to Hold'em but a couple of key differences.
Each player is dealt 4 hole cards instead of 2
A player must use exactly 2 of their hole cards to make up their final 5-card hand
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:
If you dive into any number of poker's multitude of great variations, like draw games, lowball games, Chinese Poker, etc, you'll need to learn specific rules for each game.
Again, check our our extensive list of Poker Rules guides 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!
Official Rules of Tournament Poker from TDA
Like most other games and sports, poker does have an organization managing its 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 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.
The largest poker regulator internationally has released the latest version of its rules and good practices for organizers (and players), in October 2017.
You can read the full Poker Tournament Rules document on their website. These rules are used in most major tournaments around the world.
Official Poker Rules from International Poker Federation (FIDPA)
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.
Spearheaded by famed poker professional Marcel Luske of the Netherlands, the International Poker Federation (FIDPA) has done just that and compiled a set of rules that, if adopted internationally, would avoid the vast majority of disputes that can be seen in casinos or poker tournaments around the world.
A "global" poker player the "Flying Dutchman" has faced the same problem as many poker players who travel the world: having to adapt to the different rules of each of his destinations, which tends to increase the risks of misunderstanding and conflict.
"Whether you play Bellagio, Wynn or anywhere in the world, it's always the same, the rules are the house rules," says Luske. "As a result, players must constantly adapt to different rules.
"The problem is not that these rules are complicated but the total lack of coherence. If the rules were the same everywhere in the world, dealers and supervisors could easily work anywhere without feeling destabilized and without the need for training in every new institution."
National Organizations Join the Cause
Since poker laws differ in many countries the universal rules still must be somewhat adapted. Numerous national associations have already joined FIDPA, notably in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Finland, the United States and other European countries.
Among the partners approved by FIDPA, for example, are the Bellagio Las Vegas (which has used FIDPA rules 5 years), the Circus Group, the Australian Poker League (APL) and the Holland Casino.
"As a player," Luske adds, "I want to avoid conflicts with the casino as much as possible and I want to gain credibility. It's not a question of money, but of principle, respect and common sense."