The card game of poker has many variations, most of which were created in the United States in the mid-1900s. The standard order of play applies to most of these games, but to fully specify a poker game requires details about which hand values are used, the number of betting rounds, and exactly what cards are dealt and what other actions are taken between rounds.
The three most popular poker variants are spread in casinos and poker rooms worldwide and can be divided into the following groups:
Draw poker: Games in which players are dealt a complete hand, hidden, and then improve it by replacing cards. The most common of these is Five-card draw.
Stud poker: Games in which each player receives a combination of face-up cards and face-down cards in multiple betting rounds. The most common of these are Seven-card stud and Five-card stud and Razz
Community card poker: Games in which each player’s incomplete hidden hand is combined with shared face-up cards. The most common of these are Texas hold ‘em and Omaha hold ‘em.
Community Card Poker Games
These are the rules for community card poker games. In the rules for community card poker games, each poker player is dealt privately an incomplete poker hand (hole cards) which is then combined with the community cards to make a complete poker hand. The set of community cards is called a board, and may be dealt in a simple line or arranged in a special pattern; rules of each poker game determine how the community cards may be combined with each player’s private poker hand.
The most popular community card poker game today is probably Texas Holdem Poker (and variants) originating sometime in the 1970s. In home poker games, it is typical to use an ante, while casinos typically use only blinds for these poker games. Fixed limit poker games are most common in poker rooms and casinos, while spread limit games are more common in home poker games. No limit and pot limit games are less common, but some poker games play particularly well with those structures such as Texas Holdem Poker. Most of the major poker tournaments at casinos and poker rooms are no limit Texas Holdem Poker games.
It is a common convention in community card poker games to name the board cards in relation to the order in which they are dealt. The community cards initially dealt by the dealer are called the flop, the next community card dealt is called the turn, and the final community card dealt is called the river.
As with stud poker, later poker betting rounds often have a higher limit than earlier poker betting rounds. Each betting round begins with the poker player to the dealer’s left (when blinds are used, the first round begins with the player after the big blind), so community card games are generally positional poker games.
Most community card poker games do not play well with lowball poker hand values, though some do play very well at high-low split, especially with ace-to-five low values, making it possible to win both halves of a pot. When poker games are played high-low split, there is generally a minimum qualifying poker hand for low (often 8-high), and it is played cards speak.
In Hold’em, each player receives two cards face down, and then a bet ensues.
Then three common cards are dealt face up, followed by a common fourth
and a common fifth card, with betting intervals. The best five cards out of the
two in your hand and the five on the board constitutes the hand. See Chapter
4 for details and great tips.
In Omaha High, each player gets four cards face down, and then a bet occurs.
Then three cards are dealt face up all at once on the board as common cards,
with a betting round. Then a fourth common card is dealt face up with a bet,
with a betting round, and a fifth common card is dealt face up with a common
card and with a betting round. A player must use two (and only two cards)
from his hand, together with three of the common cards. Hands in Omaha
tend to be higher than those in Seven Stud or Hold’em because of the greater
number of cards dealt out and the greater number of possibilities.
Omaha High-Low 8-or-Better
Omaha High-Low, 8-or-Better (Omaha/8) is played in the same way as Omaha
(four cards in your hand, five common cards ultimately on the board), but
there is a high hand and a low hand that splits the pot. A qualifying hand of 8
or better is needed for a hand to be in contention to win half of the pot.
Check out Chapter 6 for advice on playing this game.
Pineapple – Crazy Pineapple
Pineapple starts with three cards dealt face down to each player, and then a
betting round ensues. Then three common cards are dealt face up followed
by a betting round. Then each player must discard one of the cards in his
hand. Then a fourth common card is dealt face up followed by betting, followed
by a fifth common card face up and then betting. The best five cards
from the two in your hand and five on the board are played. Pineapple can
also be played high-low.
Draw Poker Rules
These are the rules for Draw poker. Draw poker is very popular in home poker games and draw poker rules are fairly straightforward. Draw poker is, however, quite rare in casino poker and poker tournaments. When played skillfully, draw poker can become monotonous. The lowball draw poker variations, are more interesting poker games. Two to eight players can play draw poker.
In draw poker rules, poker play begins with each player being dealt five cards, one at a time, all face down. The remaining deck is placed aside, often protected by placing a chip or other marker on it. Poker players pick up the cards and hold them in their hands, being careful to keep them concealed from the other players. The first draw poker poker betting round occurs at this point, starting with the player to the dealer’s left. If more than one poker player remains after this round, the draw phase begins.
Each player in a draw poker game specifies how many of his cards he wishes to replace, and discards that many from his poker hand. The remaining deck is retrieved and, after a burn card (a card dealt from the top of a deck, and placed aside unused) is dealt, each poker player in turn is dealt the same number of cards he discarded, so that each draw poker player again has five cards. It is important that each draw poker player discards the cards he wishes to replace before he takes any replacements, and that he take the same number of replacements as he discarded. A second draw poker betting round occurs after the draw phase, followed by a showdown if more than one poker player remains.
A common house draw poker rule sometimes used is that a player may not replace more than three cards from his poker hand, unless he draws four cards while keeping an ace (or wild card). This draw poker rule is only needed for low-limit social draw poker games where many players will stay for the draw, and helps to avoid depletion of the remaining deck. In more serious draw poker games such as those played in casinos, this draw poker rule is unnecessary and generally not used.
A draw poker rule used by many casinos is that a poker player is not allowed to draw five consecutive cards from the deck. If a poker player wishes to replace all five of his cards, he is given four of them in turn, the other players are given their draws, and then the dealer returns to that poker player to give him his fifth replacement card (if no later player drew, it is necessary to deal a burn card first).
Another common house draw poker rule is that the bottom card of the deck is never given as a replacement card. This avoids the possibility of someone who might have seen the bottom card using that information. If the deck stub is depleted during the draw before all poker players have received their replacement cards, the last poker players can receive cards chosen randomly from among those discarded by the previous poker players.
For example, if the last poker player to draw wants three replacements, but there are only two cards remaining in the deck stub, the dealer gives the poker player the one top card he can give, then shuffles together the bottom card of the deck, the burn card if any, and the earlier poker players’ discards (but not the three discards of the last player), and finally deals two more replacement draw cards to the last player.
Five- Card Draw
In Five-Card Draw poker, each player is dealt five cards face down. After the
deal, a betting round occurs. After the betting round, beginning with the
player on the dealer’s left, a player may discard one or more cards, and the
dealer then deals her from the deck as many cards as she has discarded (the
draw). A player does not have to draw and can stay pat. (For example, if you
already have a straight, flush, or full house, you should stay pat and not draw
After the draw, there is another betting round, followed by the show of
hands. Some games limit the number of cards that can be drawn, some not.
In one variation of Five-Card Draw, a person is allowed to bet only if she has a
pair of jacks or better.
Lowball is like Five-Card Draw, but the lowest hand wins the pot. Ace always
counts as a low card and A-2-345 is the best possible low. Straights and
flushes don’t count, although some players play that 643-2-A is the lowest
Like Five-Card Draw, five cards are dealt face down, followed by a betting
round. Then a player may discard cards to improve his hand, followed by a
final betting round.
The best hand is referred to by the highest card in your hand. If two players
have the same card that is the highest card, then the next lowest card counts.
Lowball is typically a game that should be played conservatively, waiting for
pat hands or hands with one-card draws.
Stud Poker Rules
These are the basic stud poker rules. Stud poker refers to any of a number of poker game variants in which each poker player receives a mix of face-down and face-up cards dealt in multiple poker betting rounds. In stud poker rules, the poker player simply plays the cards he is dealt. Stud poker games do not have community cards or draw cards. Stud poker games are also typically non-positional games, meaning that the poker player who bets first in each poker betting round may change from round to round (it is usually the stud poker player whose face-up cards make the best hand for the poker game being played).
Five card stud poker first appeared during the American Civil War, and became very popular. In recent years, seven card stud poker has become the more common stud poker game, both in casinos and in home games. These two games form the basis of most modern stud poker game variations.
The number of betting rounds in a poker game influences how well the game plays with different betting structures. Poker games with four or fewer betting rounds, such as five card stud poker and Mississippi Stud Poker play well with any structure, and are especially well suited to no limit and pot limit play. Poker games with more betting rounds are more suited to fixed limit or spread limit. It is common (and recommended) for later poker betting rounds to have higher limits than earlier ones.
It is a common convention in stud poker games to name the poker betting rounds after the number of cards each player holds when that poker betting round begins. So the bet that occurs when each stud poker player has three cards is called third card or third street, while the bet that occurs when each stud poker player has five cards is fifth street. The final round, regardless of the number of poker betting rounds, is commonly called the river.
Seven- Card Stud
SevenCard Stud is very popular and can be played highanly or high-low.
Two down cards and one up card is first dealt to each player. Four more
cards are dealt, three up, and the last one down, with betting intervals following
each card. From the seven cards played, the best five cards win. Head
over to Chapter 3 for a detailed description of the game.
Five- Card Stud
In Five-Card Stud, each player gets one card down and one card up initially,
followed by a bet. Then each player gets a second up card, followed by a bet.
A third and fourth card face up is given to each player, each followed by a
The best high hand at the end wins. There are variations of the game where
players are allowed to buy one or two replacement cards after all five cards
are dealt. The game can also be played high-low, although in this variation, no
minimum 8-low-or better is typically required.
A high pair in regular Five-Card Stud can often win the hand.
Baseball is typically a version of Seven-Card Stud, where each player gets two
cards down, four cards dealt face up, and a final card face down. But in
Baseball, all 9s and 3s are wild. I: a 4 is dealt face up, it entitles the player to
an extra down card.
Baseball is a game where big, big hands often come up. With eight wild cards,
you can see four of a kind easily, with straight flushes and five of a kind happening
Black Mariah (sometimes referred to as Chicago) is a Seven-Card Stud game,
except that the high spade in the hole splits half the pot. Sometimes Q*
counts as the highest spade.
If you have the highest spade in the hole in the first two cards you get, you
can keep betting and raising at will.
Razz is Seven-Card Stud, played low. Each player starts with two cards down
and one card up. Each player’must ante initially, and the high card on the
board is typically required to make a small bet. Subsequent players may then
call or raise.
As long as he stays in, a player gets ultimately a total of three hole cards and
four exposed up cards. The best hand is A-2-3-4-5. The key to this game is
starting with three low cards and being able to read your opponents’ hands
and remember what cards have been already played and folded.
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