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Basic Rules of Poker
That’s the old saying about the game of poker. If you’re interested in learning how to play poker, you’ve come to the right place.

Here, we’ll keep things simple as we explain the rules and dynamics that determine how to play poker.

We’ll be using No-Limit Texas Hold’em, the most popular form of poker, as the prime example. But we’ll touch upon some other variants to give you an idea of other poker formats.

Among the topics we’ll cover are:
1.How to Win at Poker
2.Poker Hand Rankings
3.How to Play the Game (The Flop, Turn and River)
4.Dealer Button and Blinds
5.Tournaments vs Cash Games
6.Variants of Poker

How to Win at Poker
The goal of cash games is to win money. In tournaments, the goal is to win all the chips and finish as the last player standing (thus securing a big payday).

To win at poker, you either have to bluff your opponents or hold the best hand at the end (aka the “showdown”).

In poker, you’re looking to make the best possible 5-card hand. Your holdings can range from a high card up to a Royal Flush.

Poker Hands Rankings

Here’s a look at the best possible poker hands in descending order:
1.Royal Flush: This hand is the rarest in poker. It’s when you make a ten-to-ace straight all in the same suit such as A♦K♦Q♦J♦T♦
2.Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of differing suits, like 8♠7♠6♠5♠4♠, then you have a straight flush.
3.4-of-a-Kind: The name says it all! If you have all four of the same card, like A♠4♠4♣4♥4♦ then you have quads!
4.Full House: Also known as a “boat,” it’s when you have three of a kind along with a pair – for example: A♦A♣A♥J♥J♠ (three of one, two of the other)
5.Flush: There are four suits in poker (diamonds, hearts, spades, and clubs). When you have five cards all in the same suit, you have a flush. An example might be A♥J♥8♥4♥2♥
6.Straight: Five consecutive cards of differing suits, like 8♥7♣6♦5♦4♠ is a straight. An A-2-3-4-5 straight is known as a “wheel,” while 10-J-Q-K-A is called “Broadway.”
7.3-of-a-Kind: Whenever you have three of the same cards (i.e. A♠K♥5♠5♦5♣) you have three-of-a-kind. If you make three-of-a-kind with a pair in the hole and one on the board, it’s “a set.” If you make it with two on the board and one card in the hole, then it’s called “trips.”
8.Two Pair: Is when you have not one, but two pairs. The fifth card is your kicker. For instance, if you have A♣K♥5♥K♠5♦ you have kings and fives with an ace kicker.
9.One Pair: There are thirteen different cards of each suit. Whenever you match two, it’s called a pair. For example,A♦A♣7♠4♠2♣2 is a pair of aces.
10.High Card: If no one can make a ranked hand (different suits, non-connected, unpaired) it comes down to your high card(s). If you have A♣Q♦9♥6♣3♦ then you have ace-queen high.

How to Play the Game
A hand of No-Limit Texas Hold’em begins with each player receiving two cards facedown, called “hole cards.”

Players will always have three options when it’s their turn to act –
1.to either bet/call,
2.raise or

Players can win a hand by using any combination of their two-hole cards and five on the board to form the best 5-card hand.

Remember, after players receive their cards, a round of “preflop” betting occurs. Each “street,” or round after that, has a different name.

Flop – The first three community cards dealt are referred to as “the flop”. All remaining players can use these community cards to try and make the best poker hand. Play continues with a round of betting. The action starts with the first player still in the hand who is to the left of the dealer button.

Turn – After completing the round of betting on the flop, another community card is dealt, called the turn (AKA Fourth Street). A total of two hole cards and four community cards are available for active players to try and make the best five-card hand.

Another round of betting takes place. Again, the action starts with the first remaining player seated to the left of the button. Play always continues in a clockwise direction. When all remaining players have acted, the betting round ends.

River – The river (AKA Fifth Street) is the fifth and last community card. A final round of betting takes place. If there’s a showdown – the point where all action is complete – players turn up their hands. The last player to bet, known as the last aggressor, must show first. Whoever holds the best five-card hand wins the pot, This action completes the hand, moving on to a new one.

Example: In a $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em game, you are first to act after the big blind (more on the blinds below). You are facing a $2 “blind” bet, So you can either call that amount, raise it, or fold.

Let’s assume you raise to $6 holding the A♦K♣. Everyone else folds around to the player in the big blind, who puts in the extra $4 to call.

The flop comes down A♣5♠6♥ . The player in the big blind is first to act and can either check or bet. There’s no need for the to fold as there is no bet. They wind up checking, and you bet $10 with your top pair.

The player in the big blind calls and the K♦ turns. Again, your opponent checks. You bet $25 with two pair. The big blind calls once more and the 2♣ completes the board on the river.

Your opponent checks, for a third time, and calls when you bet $100.

The action is over, so it’s time to show your cards.

You turn over your two pair (your A♦K♣ plus the A♣K♦6♥ on the board make your best possible five-card hand).

Your opponent shows he was beat as he only had the A♥Q♠ for a losing pair of aces. (Their A♥Q♠ plus A♣K♦6♥ from the board gives them their best possible five-card hand.)

Congratulations, you won a nice pot!

Dealer Button and Blinds
In most games, a dedicated dealer facilitates the dealing. In home poker games, it’s not uncommon for players to rotate the deal among themselves.

If there is a dedicated dealer, a button indicates who has the deal. That button then moves one spot clockwise after each hand. The purpose of the button is to identify where the action should begin in each hand.

Action always starts with the first person left of the button.

Before any cards are dealt, the player to the direct left of the button must post (pay) the small blind. The player to the left of him must post the big blind.

These “blinds” are forced bets that help give players something chase. Think about it: If there were no blinds in poker, players would never “blind off”. They would never lose chips from always folding preflop.

Players would wait until they had Aces dealt to them, and then go all-in.

For example, if the game was $1-$2 No-Limit Hold’em, the player to the direct left of the button must post a $1 small blind. The player after that has to pay the $2 big blind.

These are mandatory “blind bets” and must be posted. If a player refuses, they must sit out of the game.

Tournaments vs Cash Games
When you play poker against other players, you do so in one of two formats – tournament or cash game (AKA ring game).

The basics outline above are the same, but there are four significant differences.

1.Blinds: In cash games, the blinds are always fixed (i.e. $1-$2, $2-$5, etc.) and never increase. While in tournaments, the blinds increase every X-number of minutes, based on the blind structure. They do so to force action and ensure the tournament ends on time.

2.Duration: Cash games are convenient as you can come and go as you please. Tournaments are different. Play continues (according to the blind structure) until a winner is crowned.

3.Chips: In cash games, each chip has a denomination that corresponds to its real-money In tournaments, chip denominations typically do not have real-money value. For example, in a $100 buy-in tournament, you may receive 10,000 units worth of chips.

4.Antes: Antes are like blinds in the sense that they are forced bets taken from players before the start of a hand. They are common in tournaments but do occasionally pop up in cash games. They do not contribute to money used in the first (preflop) round of betting, unlike the blinds.

Antes are merely used to boost the size of the pot preflop. They give players more incentive to fight for the dead money in the middle.

Do note that either “button” or “big blind” antes (one larger-sized ante taken from one player) are replacing traditional antes to save on time. This format is happening especially in tournaments to move the pace of the game along.

As the blinds rotate at the end of each hand, all players will be subject to a button ante, every orbit.

Top 10 Unique Poker Games
888poker takes a look at the top ten unusual and unique card games that you may or may not have heard of. Check out the craziest home games on the planet!

Wild cards, matching the pot, and a fiery cross!

The game of poker offers much more than traditional poker games. While many players today are accustomed to more games played in a casino or poker room – games like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven Card Stud – others may remember losing their shirt in a crazy home game.

Those games at the kitchen table or back room with all sorts of differing card numbers, wild cards, and other caveats make for some unique action at the tables.

Here’s a look at some of those games. Grab your lucky charm and don’t get too angry – in some of these games, suckouts are definitely on the menu.

Top 10 Unique Poker Games Are:
2.Pineapple and Crazy/Lazy Pineapple
3.Criss Cross, Fiery Cross, or Iron Cross
4.Irish Poker
5.Black Mariah or Low Chicago
8.Three-Card Guts
10.2 and 22

#1 – Vanunu
This was one of Daniel Negreanu’s favourite games growing up in Toronto, and he’s referenced it often. Players are dealt all seven cards face down and roll their own, one at a time. Bets are made until there are five upcards and two downcards.

This card game then becomes a bit of an auction. Players can pitch a card back in, and a buy another after the last card is dealt face up, paying a predetermined amount for an up card and twice that for a down card.

In Negreanu’s version, each player had to declare low, high, or both by dropping coins on the table simultaneously – one for low, two for high, or three for both. Players declaring both must win both ways, or they aren’t awarded any of the pot. Additionally, if there are only multiple low declarations, the best low hand scoops the entire pot with no high hand. It’s a unique game with many variables.

So, this one can go from High-Low to Lowball, and players better get those declarations right. Declaring both ways and then missing – that can be costly. Hopefully, you’ll have Daniel’s reads and rake plenty of pots.

#2 – Pineapple and Crazy/Lazy Pineapple
This one has a “tropical twist” on traditional Texas Hold’em and has become much-loved by many. In Pineapple, a player is dealt three cards and then discards one before the first round of betting. The betting continues like in traditional Texas Hold’em.

In Crazy Pineapple, players don’t discard until after the flop. All other rules of Hold’em then apply. In Lazy Pineapple, players can hold onto the three cards and then discard one after the river and last round of betting.

What’s the catch? The extra card and discard element add an extra twist, and it inevitably seems like a player pitches the wrong card back into the muck. You may have kept that top pair, but that discarded card may have brought a straight. That deuce tossed in the muck may have turned into trips with runner-runner 2s.

It’s enough to drive you crazy, but a fun game nonetheless – and maybe worth serving up a nice frozen too along with the poker. Enjoy!

#3 – Criss Cross, Fiery Cross, or Iron Cross

There can be some significant anticipation in this game. Each player is dealt four cards, and five cards are also dealt face down in a “cross” formation in the centre of the table. After a round of betting, one of the outside cards is turned up. Betting then continues, and this pattern continues until only the centre card is face down.

The centre card is turned last, and a final bet is made. Players have the option to use two, three, or four of their cards and either the vertical or horizontal cards on the board and two of their own.

There are numerous variations. Some allow for players to use more than two of their hole cards or feature a high/low split. Another common addition is to make the centre card wild – making for some interesting showdowns. That centre card could change your hand entirely – good or bad. What had been a solid hand, can now be a costly loser.

#4 – Irish Poker
This game combines a bit of Texas Hold’em and Omaha – and, hopefully, a little luck of the Irish when it comes to your own hand. Players begin with four cards and betting follows pre-flop in the traditional style.

However, after the betting on the flop, players must discard two cards. The game is then played out as in Hold’em. The discarding makes for some unique opportunities to cobble together a hand, but would those two cards you threw away have made a better hand once the turn and river are dealt?

No doubt, there will be plenty of thoughts like this at the table:

“Damn, I’d have made a full house!”

“Those two spades on the turn and river would have made me the nut flush if I’d kept that King. Argh!”

Irish poker has a bit more swing than Hold’em, and the above statements are all part of the fun. Just really think about those cards you’re sending back.

#5 – Black Mariah or Low Chicago

Sometimes it pays to do nothing more than get lucky. That certainly applies in these games. Black Mariah and Low Chicago are versions of Seven-Card Stud. In Black Mariah, the player with the high spade in the hole wins half the pot. That’s it. No three-betting, slow playing, or in-depth analysis about any hand. Just get lucky enough to be dealt that low spade and then keep that pot building – half of it is yours.

This was a favourite of Phil Hellmuth growing up in Wisconsin. It must have been an interesting sight to see the Poker Brat’s 3♠ beaten by the 2♠. That might have brought a bit of a rant. The game is also often called Low Chicago with High Chicago being the opposite – the player with the highest spade in the hole splitting the pot. This may not involve a lot of skill, but it can make for some big pots.

Some players add a side pot to these games instead of splitting the pot. Hellmuth’s games got even crazier, often with Deuces, One-Eyed Jacks, and Suicide Kings as wild cards. The name “Black Mariah” may derive from the villain in the Luke Cage Marvel comics. In the game, however, Black Mariah is a hero – and can bring you plenty of profits.

#6 – Badugi
Be prepared to get confused or frustrated. These games have gained more popularity in recent years with its inclusion in some of the mixed games tournaments at the World Series of Poker. But they’re certainly different than traditional poker.

Badugi is a lowball game in which players are dealt four cards. The game is played with blinds and features three drawing rounds. After betting, a player can keep all his cards (called standing pat) or discard some or all.

Play continues until all players have folded except one, or the third drawing round is completed. The goal is to make the lowest hand possible without a pair and all cards of a different suit. For example, A♥ 2♣ 3♦ 4♠ would be the lowest possible Badugi. A hand with a pair or second card of the same suit, such as A♥ 2♣ 3♦ 7♣ or 6♥ 7♣ 8♦ 8♠, would only qualify as a three-card Badugi. Either of these hands would lose to a completed four-card Badugi.

And that’s what can be frustrating. You may have A♥ 2♣ 3♦, and then keep drawing another diamond, club, or heart – ouch!

Ready to mix this poker game up even more? Badeucy is a combination of Badugi and 2-7 Lowball. Like Badugi, it features three rounds of betting and drawing. The game splits the pot between the best four-card Badugi hand and the best five-card 2-7 hand. However, Aces count high in this game, so the best Badugi hand would start with a 2. For example, a player holding 2♣ 3♥ 4♠ 5♦ 7♦ would have the nuts in both Badugi and 2-7 – with the 2♣ 3♥ 4♠ 5♦ as the best possible Badugi.

The challenge is that an extra card makes it easier for players to make some lower Badugi hands. Higher Badugis will not win as often, so that can be a challenge, especially in a game where players making solid hands will continue to bet and grow the pot.

It’s a challenging game that makes you think but can be costly if you hang on too much hoping to outdraw opponents. Think low in this Lowball/Lowball split pot game. Got all that?

#7 – Anaconda

Pass, pass, roll those cards. This is a bastardised version of Seven-Card Stud in which players are dealt seven cards face down. There is a round of betting and players then pass three cards to a player to the left or right (determined by the dealer). After another round of betting, players then pass two cards, and then finally one last card after another round of betting.

Players then place their best five cards in a stack face down. Cards are exposed one at a time followed by a betting round until all five are exposed. Some players play with only two rounds of card passing, and it’s also often played as a high-low split.

It can be a frustrating affair. You’ll often have to break up an already nicely setup hand. And when you try going low, your neighbours will inevitably pass you plenty of high cards.

Where did the name come from? That may be lost with time, but perhaps it’s about the long time for betting or the snake of cards working their way around the table. Whatever the inspiration, it can be a fun game with plenty of action.
#8 – Three-Card Guts

This game can take some real courage – and quickly empty your wallet. In this unique poker variant, players are dealt three cards and can decide to play their hand or not by simultaneously dropping a chip in the centre of the table. The winner takes the pot, and the losers match it. For example, if three players stay and there is $5 in the pot, the two losers each pony up making for a new $10 pot.

The process repeats until there is only one player raking the entire pot. The game builds some significant action and fun. Winning those big pots takes some guts as the name implies, and pots can really balloon if several players stay in and have to match the pot.

What started as a $10 pot becomes $40 if four players stay in. If three more then stay, that becomes $120. If three more remain? Well, you see where this is going. Have you got the guts?

#9 – Cincinnati

Here’s yet another geographically named poker game. In this one, each player is dealt five cards face down. Five cards are also dealt face down in the middle of the table with each exposed one at a time, followed by a round of betting. After the final round, players use any of their hole cards and those on the board to make their best five-card hand.

This isn’t Big O – you have five cards to make your best hand. It can make for some huge hands! Be ready to have your flush or straight beaten regularly. Don’t be a lamebrain.

Speaking of lamebrains, an alternate version is known as Lamebrain Pete, and the lowest card on the board is considered wild – making for an even crazier twist on an already crazy game as players hope one of their low cards ends up being wild.

#10 – 2 and 22
No man’s land out in the middle won’t work in this one. This split pot game is quite a bit different than regular poker games. An Ace can be used as 1 or 11 as in Blackjack. However, face cards count as half. Players are dealt one card face down, and one card face up. The goal is to get as close to 2 or 22 to split the pot. After being dealt two cards, there is a round of betting and players can decide to take another or stand pat.

Players who pass three times are locked and can’t take more cards. After everyone is locked or no one takes a card, there is a showdown. The added fun in this one may be the unique bluffing. Players with a low up card tend to bet at a pot and at least bluff at the low. If no one else has a high up card, that makes for a smart play. A player may have a King up but still have a high card underneath. The savvy bluffer may actually win the low with a 10-1/2.

A player dealt a 2 down, and a King up has 2-½, an excellent hand. Also, a lucky player dealt Ace-Ace will win the pot both ways and certainly be looking to build the pot. There can be some added frustrations. In this game, low beats high so a player with 21-½ would top a player with 22-½ – and 2-½ would be topped by 1-½. Also, a player going high may be close to that completed hand and keep getting low cards, and then boom – a 10 hits your hand and ruins it all. There are numerous variations, but it’s a fun game to shake things up.

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