Learning the rules of poker is a must for any new player. Poker is a game of skill, chance and psychology. If you are brand new to the game, here are the basics to get you started – be sure to check out the rules of poker games on this site for specifics on all your favorite games. You will also pick up on the more complicated aspects of the game as you gain experience.
When learning the rules of poker, you first want to become familiar with the hand rankings. With each round of play, your objective is to win money by having the best hand at the table. What is a good hand? We’ll start at the top and work our way down.
If you ever in your lifetime see a royal flush, you are a very lucky person. A royal flush is one notch above a straight flush, since it's AKQJT, all of the same suit. It is the granddaddy of all hands.
A straight flush is 5 cards, in consecutive order, all in one suit. Example: 45678 of hearts.
Four of a Kind
Four of a kind is four cards of the same value. QQQQ is four of a kind.
A full house is a hand that has both three of a kind and two pair. QQQ22 is a full house.
You have a flush when you have five cards of the same suit. The cards do not have to be in consecutive order. If you have AQ942 of hearts, you have a flush.
A straight is made up of five cards, of any suit, in consecutive order. A2345 is an example of a straight. The higher the cards go, the better the straight. AKQJT is the highest straight possible.
Three of a Kind
If you hold three cards of the same value, then you have three of a kind. QQQ is an example of three of a kind.
Two pair is comprised of two sets of pairs. If you hold QQ and 22, then you have two pair. In the event of a tie, the person with the highest pair wins. If both players with two pair have the same high pair, then the person with the highest fifth card (or kicker) wins the pot.
A pair is any two matching cards (QQ, 22, 88). The higher the pair, the better your hand.
High card is used to rank the value of your hand when you basically have nothing. If you have a random hand of cards that don't make up a pair, straight, flush, then your hand is as valuable as the highest card you hold. If you have Q2843, then you have high card Q.
You have just learned the most important aspect of the rules of poker – hand values. You now know what beats what. Jump right in get playing!
Need more help? Visit our poker glossary