Most versions of poker follow the outline given below, but in a home game of course you are free to change the rules as you wish.
Players bet into a communal pot during the course of a hand and the player holding the best hand at the end of the betting wins the pot. In each betting round the players in turn may take one of four actions:
- Check:- a bet of zero that does not forfeit interest in the pot
- Bet or Raise:- a nonzero bet greater than preceding bets that all successive players must match or exceed or else forfeit all interest in the pot
- Call:- a nonzero bet equal to a preceding bet that maintains a player’s interest in the pot
- Fold:- a surrender of interest in the pot in response to another players’s bet, accompanied by the loss of one’s cards and previous bets
Betting usually proceeds in a circle until each player has either called all bets or folded. Different poker games have various numbers of betting rounds interspersed with the receipt or replacement of cards.
Poker is usually played with a standard 4-suit 52-card deck, but a joker or other wild cards may be added. The ace normally plays high, but can sometimes play low (in none Royal Flushes). At the showdown, those players still remaining compare their hands.
See our Poker Hands page for an explaination of their rankings and our Poker Rules and Poker Versions pages for some of the many variants of the game and if you want to know where it came from visit our Poker History page. Our Poker Odds and Poker Tips pages will provide advice that should help you improve your game.