The Short Version

Players are dealt private cards to hold, and in some games cards are also dealt on the board to be shared. In general the goal is to make the best 5-card poker hand from the available cards. Each time card(s) are dealt there is a round of betting. Win the total bets by having the best poker hand or by aggressively betting and forcing other players to give up.

Player vs. Player Games

Holdem Omaha Omaha Hi/Lo 7-card Stud Razz 7-card Stud Hi/Lo

The game begins when at least 2 players are seated, and may be played with as many players as there are seats.

Players take turns acting in a clockwise sequence. When facing a bet, a player may call (match the bet), raise (increase the bet), or fold (surrender the hand). When no one has bet in the round, a player may check (pass, or decline to bet), or bet himself. Each betting round ends when all bets, if any, have been called or folded to by players with cards and chips remaining.

In Limit games (also called Fixed Limit), betting occurs in increments of the big blind except for the final 2 rounds when it is double that amount. In each round raising is allowed up to 4 betting increments. An all-in raise is treated as a call if it is for less than half the minimum raise.

In Pot Limit or No Limit games, up to the pot or entire stacks, respectively, may be bet. The minimum bet is the big blind, and the minimum non-all-in raise is the last bet or raise in the round. An all-in raise is treated as a call if it is for less than the full minimum raise.

In all cases the software automatically calculates the minimum and maximum bets.

All bets above an all-in bet are collected into a side pot, and the all-in player may only contest the pots for which he contributed chips. Multiple side pots are possible.

If at least 2 players have not folded by the conclusion of betting on the final round, a showdown occurs - each player's hand is turned face-up for comparison and the pot is awarded to the best hand(s).

Flop Games

Holdem Omaha Omaha Hi/Lo

On a fresh table, a "dealer" chip marked "D" is placed in front of a random seat. This seat is called the button. The button moves one player clockwise before each hand begins.

Before any hands are dealt, the player after the button posts the small blind and the next player posts the big blind - blinds are forced bets designed to encourage action. In a 2-player game, called a heads-up game, the button posts the small blind and his opponent posts the big blind.

Each player is dealt 2 hole cards in a Holdem game or 4 hole cards in an Omaha game. In Holdem the best hand is made from any 5-card combination of a player's hole cards with the board (community cards), whereas in Omaha 2 of a player's 4 hole cards are used with 3 board cards to form the best hand.

In the first betting round, the preflop round, the player to the big blind's left acts first. In subsequent rounds the player to the button's left acts first.

In the second betting round, called the flop, 3 cards are dealt face-up on the board. In the third betting round, called the turn, 1 card is added to the board. In the final betting round, called the river, 1 last card completes the 5-card board.

Hi/Lo Games

Omaha Hi/Lo 7-card Stud Hi/Lo

At showdown half the pot is awarded to the winner(s) of the best low hand if it exists, and the remaining pot is awarded to high hand(s) as usual. The low hand is a seperate card combination from the high hand, although they are allowed to be the same. (5432A commonly wins the high while being the best possible low hand.)

The best low hand is the smallest hand when ordered in reverse rank, having unique ranks as small as A and as big as 8. (The game is said to have an 8 or Better qualifier, e.g. Omaha Hi/Lo is also known as Omaha 8 or Better.) For example, 87432 is a qualifying low hand while J752A is not.

Poker Hands

Hands are evaluated as the best combination specified by the game rules. Card order does not matter.

The worst type of hands are High Card hands, which have no matching ranks and have at least 1 gap in rank and suit. For example, JT754 is called "jack high".

High Card hands are beaten by One Pair hands (or better), which have a single pair of matching ranks. For example, AAQ76 is called "a pair of aces".

One Pair hands are beaten by Two Pair hands (or better), which have 2 pairs of matching ranks. For example, KK99T is called "two pair, kings and nines".

Two Pair hands are beaten by Three of a Kind hands (or better), which have 3 matching ranks. For example, 222QT is called "three of a kind deuces" or "trip deuces". In flop games, the hand is referred to as a set if the matching ranks are made with both hole cards, e.g. "a set of deuces".

Three of a Kind hands are beaten by Straight hands (or better), which have 5 consecutive ranks and have at least 1 suit gap. For example, QJT98 is called "a queen high straight". Unless specific game rules say otherwise, aces connect to make the lowest straight called the wheel, a five high straight, as well as the highest straight, an ace high straight.

Straight hands are beaten by Flush hands (or better), which have 5 matching suits and have at least 1 rank gap. For example, AJ986 is called "an ace high flush".

Flush hands are beaten by Full House hands (or better), which have 3 of one rank and 2 of another. For example, QQQ99 is called "a full house, queens full of nines" or "a full house, queens over nines".

Full House hands are beaten by Four of a Kind hands (or better), which have 4 matching ranks. For example, 7777A is called "four of a kind sevens" or "quad sevens".

Four of a Kind hands are beaten by Straight Flush hands (or better), which have 5 consecutive ranks with matching suits. For example, 98765 is called "a nine high straight flush". The best Straight Flush is known as the Royal Flush and looks like AKQJT.

Ties are resolved starting with the highest rank which does not affect the hand type. These ranks are called kickers. For example, KKT95 beats KK865 because the ten kicker beats the eight kicker.

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