There are many different types and styles of poker, but we like to think, when you're familiar with a general set of poker rules, you are referring to what's common between variations.
Poker uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards (for almost all variations). The cards are ranked in a standard fashion. 2 is the lowest possible card, Ace is the highest. The deck is split into four suits, but no suit is of more value than another in standard poker rules. A poker hand contains five cards. The highest hand at the table wins. Some poker variations utilize wild cards, but essentially, you should learn the ranking of hands as they exist without the possibility of wild cards first.
The number of cards you are dealt depends on the variation of poker you're playing.
Now it's time we had a look at the ranking of poker hands. As each hand is capable of beating another but the reasoning is not always obvious, it is likely that more arguments have been made over this topic than any other around the poker table. Standard poker rules dictate the following as being the appropriate ranking of the hands:
1 - Straight Flush - A straight flush is the strongest possible natural hand (natural, meaning no wild-cards are involved). It is a combination of a flush and a straight. All the cards are of the same suit, and all are consecutive numerically. Ranking between straights is determined by the value of the high end of the straight. A royal flush is a straight flush that has a high card value of Ace. Suit is irrelevant to ranking.
2 - Four of a kind - Four cards of the same value (such as four jacks or four 7's) represent the second strongest hand in standard poker rules. Four of a kind beats everything except a straight flush.
3 - Full house - a full house is a combination of three of a kind and a pair. Meaning all five of your cards are part of a set of either two or three of the same value. An example full house could be 3 7's and 2 Kings. Poker rules dictate that ties on a full house are broken by the three of a kind, as you cannot have two equal sets of three of a kind in a single deck.
4 - Flush - A flush is a hand where all the cards are of the same suit. If each card you have is all one suit, such as 2 of clubs, 4 of clubs, 5 of clubs, 8 of clubs, King of Clubs, then you have a flush. The high card determines the winner when there is a tie on a flush.
5 - Straight - A straight is a hand in which all of the cards are consecutive. There is no continuative quality to this poker hand - a straight cannot wrap around (it is not a straight if you have Queen, King, Ace, Two, Three). Standard poker rules state that in the case of more than one straight, the higher straight wins. In the case of straights that tie, the pot is split.
6 - Three of a Kind - Any three cards with the same value (ie, a 6 of clubs, a six of spades, and a six of diamonds) is considered three of a kind. The highest set of three cards wins.
7 - Two Pair - Two sets of two cards of equal value constitute a hand that has two pairs. As usual the pair with the higher value is used to determine the winner of a tie.
8 - Pair - One pair of two equal value cards constitutes a pair.
9 - High Card - When the hand you are left with has no pairs, and is not a straight or a flush, its relative value is determined by the highest value card. When two players have no pairs, straight, or flush the winner of the tie is determined by the highest value card in the hand. If the highest cards tie, the tie is broken by the second highest card. Suits are not used to break ties.
Now that you know how the hands are ranked, you know half the poker rules you need to play; all you need now is to learn to be familiar with game-play and the process by which you bet.
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