If you're a total beginner at poker check our Beginners Guide to How to Play Poker to learn the ropes fast and start competing in live and online games!
If you're looking for strategy tips for each game, check out our comprehensive poker strategy section with plenty of helpful articles for poker beginners.
Although all of the many games filed under the category "poker" have specific rules and nuances, there are some general poker rules that are universal...
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.
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.
See our Poker Rules for All-In Situations and our Side Pot Calculator here: Rules for Poker All-In Situations | Side Pot Calculator
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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.
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 Omaha poker:
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!
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.
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.
The founding idea of FIDPA is as simple as it is effective: adopting a set of international rules. These 81 rules, freely downloadable on the FIDPA website, were established in 2008.
"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."
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."
See the updated International Rules of Poker here: International Rules of Poker (Updated 2021)