Poker Rules – How to Play Poker

Posted on: August 1, 2015

Poker is quite possibly the most popular card game in the world. From the tables of local casinos, it has made its way into other media– whether they’d be online poker tournaments to more casual mobile apps, and even as mini-games in other otherwise non-gambling video games (that’s a hat tip to you, Red Dead Redemption!).

Without a doubt, poker is hot. It’s more popular than ever, it’s fun, and it’s easy to get into. It’s something you can play with family, friends, or even complete strangers. 

What is Poker?

Poker is a card game played on a standard deck of 52 cards. There are four suits in a deck– clubs, hearts, diamonds, and spades. Each suit has 13 cards, with the ace being the highest, working its way down to the king, queen, jack, 10, 9, all the way to the 2 card.

Poker has been around since the 16th century, and today, while the basic principles are the same, there are variations of poker with some additional rules, or an added element of hidden or shared cards, maybe even different hand rankings or rounds of betting offered.

The winner of each hand of poker is usually the player that holds the best ranking hands after all cards have been shown, or the player that makes the last uncalled bet.

What are the basic rules when playing poker?

Before we get into the different kinds of poker, let’s deal with the basics first.

For any type of five-card poker (that is, you are dealt five cards to work with), you’ll need to learn the ten basic ways to win. With the five cards in your hand, certain combinations might be possible. 

  1. The best possible combination is the royal flush. You have the ace, king, queen, jack, and 10 cards of the same suit.
  2. The next best is the straight flush; a sequential order of five cards of the same suit. For example, the 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of clubs.
  3. The four-of-a-kind: in this hand, you have four 8s or four 2s.
  4. The full house: this is when you have a three of a kind (e.g. three 9s or three aces) along with a pair (e.g. two 10s or two kings).
  5. A flush: when you have any five cards of the same suit.
  6. A straight: any five cards in sequential order, not necessarily of the same suit.
  7. A three-of-a-kind, like having three queens, three 3s, or some similar combination.
  8. Two pairs, like having two 4s and two jacks.
  9. One pair, like having two 4s or two jacks.
  10. High card: if you can’t form any other combination, it goes down to your highest value card. Usually, the ace is highest and the 2 is the lowest.

Alright now that you know what sort of card combinations you’re going for, we can now play poker. The dealer deals out cards to each player so that each has five cards. 

Players don’t show their cards to other players– that’s the fun part. Sometimes, just by certain reactions (or “tells”), other players can infer if the others have a good hand or a lousy hand. For this reason, great poker players have honed their observation skills, as well as keeping a straight face so as not to reveal their hand (hence, the “poker face”).

A poker game usually features a forced bet. This builds up the starting pot in any given hand of poker, serving as the first motivation for players to win the hand. Action proceeding from the consecutive rounds of betting increases the size of the pot.

Each player now has a hand of five cards, and will now be called upon to act in turn, moving clockwise around the table. When it’s a player’s turn to act, he or she can take one of the following actions:

  • Bet – A player can bet if no other players have bet during the current round.
  • Call – Calling requires the player to match the highest bet made. A player can call if other players have a bet during the round.
  • Raise – By raising, you add even more to the pot. Raising requires the player to match the highest bet made and make a consecutive bet.
  • Fold – By folding, you cut your losses. Players who fold lose their cards and cannot win or act during the current hand.
  • Check – This is when the showdown is about to occur, and players reveal their hands to see which one has the best card combination. Players can only check when there is no bet during the current round. If all players check, the round is complete.

When someone initiates a check, this means the last bet or raise has been called during the last round of betting. And with this, the showdown occurs. This means that the remaining players must declare their hands, and the player or players with the best ranking hand or hands win the pot.

Now if two players have the same hand, the person with the higher card wins. So if, for example, Player One has a pair of 5s and Player Two has a pair of 10s, Player Two wins because 10 is higher than 5.

That’s basic poker. Other forms of poker can other fun elements such as hidden and shared cards, slightly different procedures when it comes to actions in a round, and so forth. 

Texas Hold’em Poker

One of the most popular variations of Poker you’d likely see in casinos and card rooms is Texas Hold’em.

To start playing Texas Hold’em you first need to throw in your ante, or your buy-in bet to play the round. This is usually just a small amount– a dollar or five dollars, just to get things started.

Once everyone has ante’d up, the dealer now gives each player two cards. Each player now has a chance to have a look at their own cards, while of course, keeping other players from seeing these. In so doing, on the strength of just their two cards, each player can now decide to either bet or fold.

Players who choose to fold will not be playing this round. Otherwise, players can bet, or call (to match the bet) or raise (to add more money to the pot). Players unable or unwilling to match a bet will have to fold. If only one player remains in play (i.e. everyone else has folded), this player wins the round.

Now if there are at least two players left in the game, the dealer will now bring out three more cards, face up for players to see. This is called the ‘flop’. The dealer will bring out two more cards later on, but at this point, players now have a chance to bet again.

Once the bets are in, the dealer will now reveal the fourth card. This is known as the “turn”. Players once again have a chance to bet. Once those bets are in, the dealer will now reveal the fifth (and final) card for this round, known as the river.

By this time, players now have seven cards to work with: the five on the table, and the two in hand. A final round of betting occurs. Everyone then reveals their hand. The player who forms the best possible card combination using the seven cards wins (even if it means using only one card from their own hand).

Other Games at Capitol Casino

Aside from the very popular (and very exciting) Texas Hold’em variation of poker. You can also have a crack at these other games at Capitol Casino:

  • Omaha Hi- Lo
  • Black Jack
  • EZ Baccarat
  • Pai Gow Poker

Playing Poker at Capitol Casino

Capitol Casino offers both Limit and No-Limit Texas Holdem Games with various buy-ins and betting structures.

  • No Limit –  poker games with a no-limit design allow players to bet or raise by any amount, including their full rack during the betting round.
  • Pot Limit – games with a pot limit structure allow players to bet or raise by any amount up to and including the size of the total pot at the time.
  • Fixed Limit – Fixed limit amounts are set before each betting round. Each player can choose to call, bet or raise, but only by the fixed amount.
  • Spread Limit – Each player can bet or raise any amount within a specific range.

If you are looking to put your newly acquired skills to good use, come visit Capitol Casino in Sacramento. We offer a variety of poker games for you and your friends to enjoy a fun night out on the town!