Poker originated in the saloons of the Wild West and has probably
the most game variants. It is played player against players and
not just against the dealer as in Blackjack, and there is a lot
of psychology involved during play. Poker takes a moment to learn and a lifetime to master.
Poker is played from a standard deck of 52 cards. Some variant
games use multiple decks or add Jokers or Wild
The cards are ranked in descending order starting from the highest;
Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace.
Ace can be high or low. There are four suits; spades,
hearts, diamonds and clubs, but no suit is
higher than another.
Each player is dealt five cards and is called a hand. The hand
highest in ranks wins. In some games there are Wild Cards
or Jokers, which can be labelled whatever suit and rank the
possessor wishes to.
The Ranking of Poker Hands
The ranking of poker hands based on probability starting from the highest are as follows.
There are 2,598,960 possible combinations of cards in a poker hand you can be dealt. In brackets below next to the ranking of hands, are 1st the number of possible hands of that rank in 2,598,960 possible combinations, and 2nd your chances of getting one in percentage probability:
- Five of a Kind (with a Wild card or Joker)
- Royal Flush (4 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 0.000154%)
- Straight Flush (36 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 0.00139%)
- Four of a Kind (624 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 0.0240%)
- Full House (3744 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 0.144%)
- Flush (5108 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 0.197%)
- Straight (10,200 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 0.392%)
- Three of a Kind (54912 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 2.11%)
- Two Pair (123,552 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 4.75%)
- Pair (1,098,240 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 42.26%)
- High Card (1,302,540 possible hands in 2,598,960. Chance to get one: 50.12%)
Five of a Kind is only possible when using wild cards and
is the highest possible hand. If more than one hand has five-of-a-kind,
the higher rank wins; e.g. five Aces beat five kings, which
beat five queens, and so on.
Straight Flush is the best natural hand. A straight flush
consists of five cards in sequence and of the same suit. An Ace
high straight-flush is called a Royal Straight Flush
or Royal Flush and is the highest natural hand.
Four of a Kind is a hand that contains of four cards
of the same rank. The hand with the highest rank of four-of-a-kind
beats other four-of-a-kind hands. If there are many wild cards,
as used in some game variants, there could be two four-of-a-kind
hands with the same rank. In this case, the hand with the higher
ranking fifth card wins. This rule applies to hands that tie, such
as a pair or two pairs. Dead heats split the pot.
Full House is a hand consisting of three-of-a-kind and a
pair. Again, where Wild Cards are used, ties are compared
first by the three-of-a-kind ranking, then the pair.
Flush is a hand consisting of cards that are all of the same suit in any order.
Straight is a hand consisting of 5 cards in sequence, such as 5-6-7-8-9.
An Ace may either be high (A-K-Q-J-10) or low (A-2-3-4-5).
Three of a Kind is a hand similar to the four-of-a-kind hand,
except that if the remaining two cards are a pair, then it becomes
a Full House.
Two Pair is a hand that contains two pairs only.
Pair is a hand that contains one pair only.
High Card is a hand that is none of the above and
is a weak hand. If no player has a pair or better, then the hand
that contains the highest ranking card wins. If multiple players
tie with the highest card, then the second highest card decides,
followed by the third and so on.
Note on Wild Cards
How the wild card can be used depends on the game you are
playing and the rules. A wild card can be defined as a joker or standard card that, by player agreement and/or
dealer's choice, can be used to represent any card desired.
When a joker is in play, it usually can only be used as an Ace or to
complete a straight or flush. It cannot be used as a true wild card, for
example, as a king to make KK75X play as three kings. When playing for
low, the joker becomes the lowest rank not already held, so 864AX is played
as 8642A, with the joker used as a deuce.
Wild cards add an additional hand,
five of a kind, which normally ranks above a straight flush. They can also
cause confusion when two players hold the same hand composed of different
wild card combinations. The standard rules of poker do not distinguish
between such hands, but some players prefer to rank hands using fewer wild
cards above less 'natural' versions of the same hand.
In most games players must 'ante' a nominal amount just to have
the cards dealt. Once the cards are dealt, the betting
starts. Players bet into the pot in the middle of the table
and it is done in turn clockwise.
The player with the highest rank showing, is the first to speak
and to bet. He can either bet or check. By saying 'Check',
he passes the decision to bet to the next player who can also check.
If all players check, then it is the end of the round. Everyone
opens his cards and the highest hand wins.
Only after one player places a bet the real betting starts. Each
player in turn can either 'Call', 'Raise' or 'Fold'.
To fold is to pass or drop out of the round and not play. To call
means willing to match the bet, and the same amount must be placed
on the pot. To raise means to match the bet and add an extra bet.
Say you start with a $5 bet. If someone else raises $10,
he puts $15 in the pot. When your turn comes again you need to add
$10 difference to the pot to stay in the game, and if you want you
can also raise or even say 'Pot'. Pot is a raise to the maximum,
which means to bet the same amount as the total money available
in the pot.
If there are no more raises and all the cards have been dealt,
then it is the end of the round. Everyone opens his closed cards
and the highest hand wins the pot.
Interesting Link (Link opens new window)
Probabilities in Poker
Related links (Links open new window)
Online Live Poker Rooms
How to join a live poker site
Introduction to online live poker rooms
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