How To Play Poker : the basic rules common to all types of poker

The rise of online poker has contributed if becoming one the most popular card games in yhe world, but there are so many different types of poker that is can seem daunting to the beginner.

Here, Telegraph bettting introduces you to the broad concepts that unite all forms of poker and shows you how they fit together to play one of the games most populer variants, Texas Holdem.

We’ll also discuss the four main types of poker under which all poker games can be categorised.

Then, once you’ve got to grips with the basics, you’ll find our guides to the specifics of how to play the most popular types of poker at the bottom of this piece.

How to play poker : concepts common to most types of poker poker-hand rangkings

All games of poker are based around common poker-hand rangkings which are used to decide which players hand wins in a game of poker.

Some poker game types will use the common hand rangking in different ways, such as making the lowest value hand the most desirable (low-ball poker).


It’s possible to win poker hands without holding the best hand by bluffing your opponents.

Bluffing usually involves projecting confidence in your hand by betting in a manner that suggests your hand is better than it is, in the hope that your opponents will believe you and fold rather than risk taking you on in the showdown.

Forced bets

Most forms of poker require some form of compulsory bet at the beginning of a hand ususally referred to as the ‘ante’ or ‘blind’. Many forms of the game feature a small blind and a big blind, with the latter generally twice the size of the former.

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The dealer

Whether you’re playing physical poker at home, at a bricks-and-mortar casino, or an online casino the role of the dealer determines the order in which the blinds are put up and players make their bets. The game usually unfolds in a clockwise direction starting with the dealer.

In both physical and online casinos the dealer is generally not one of the players so a token denotes which player is nominally the dealer for each hand. This then rotates clockwise from one hand to the next.

Betting options

Following the forced bets, the first round of betting begins. Players usually have the following betting options to use depending on their confidence in their hand.

  • Call — Matching another player’s bet or raise
  • Raise — Increasing the size of your existing bet in the same round of betting
  • Fold — To withdraw from the hand, sacrificing any bets already made.
  • Check — Until the first bet in a round of betting is placed, players can choose to check (decline to make a bet while reserving the right to bet later in the round).
  • All in — When a player doesn’t have enough chips left to call a bet they can play all their remaining chips. Subsequent betting takes place in a side pot and the all-in player can only win the amount of chips in the pot when they went all-in in any subsequent showdown.

Rounds of betting

In poker, each round of betting offers a chance to utilise the betting options outlined in the previous section, based on your confidence in your hand and your perception of the quality of your opponents’ hands. The latter can chiefly be gauged by seeing how much they are betting or raising.

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All types of poker features at least one round of betting, while the vast majority features at least two.

These rounds usually take places before and after game events such as the dealing of the flop in texas Holdem and allow for degrees of strategizing by players as the hand progresses. Texas Holdem and Omaha, which are so called ‘community card’ games, can featuere up to four rounds of betting.

The Four main poker variations

The many different types of poker can generally be classified as falling into one of the following four categories:

Community Card Poker

Players are dealt a number of cards less than a clomplete five-card poker hand. A number of face-up community cards are then dealt with the objective that the players make the best possible five-card hand with some combination of their own cards and community cards.

Straight Poker

The earliest form of poker, each player is dealt a full hand of five cards. A round of betting ensues in which players can raise and reraise untill the game concludes.

Draw Poker

Another poker variation in which players receive all five cards at the beginning of the game, draw poker then allows them to attempt to improve their hand by discarding cards and being dealts replacement.

Stud poker

In stud-poker games, players are dealt their cards one by one in a specified combination of face-up and face-down cards, typically with a round of betting between each card being dealt.

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