The Rules of Online Poker
Poker is the name given to a variety of card games in which players’ hands are ranked by the cards available to them, whether held individually or shared by multiple players. Different poker games vary in the number of cards dealt, the hand rankings used, the number of hidden and shared cards available, the number of betting rounds offered and the betting procedures followed.
Typically, the winner of each hand of poker is the player that holds the best ranking hand when all cards are shown – this is known as “showdown” – or the player that makes the last uncalled bet, thus winning without needing to reach showdown.
Poker Game Types
We offer players a variety of poker games, many with widely differing rules and betting procedures. Click on the names of the poker games below to learn more and access each game’s poker rules:
- Texas Hold'em
- Omaha Hi-Lo
- Stud Hi-Lo
- Triple Draw 2-7
- Single Draw 2-7
- 8-Game Mix
There are different rules for the different types of games. With community card games such as Hold’em and Omaha, everybody shares part of the hand, while in Stud games each person is dealt cards, some of which are hidden and some of which are face up. For Draw games each person is dealt their own cards but can exchange some or all of them for new ones, and in High/Lo Split games the pot is divided between the best ‘high’ and ‘low’ hands.
Poker games typically feature a forced bet, such as the Big Blind and Small Blind in Hold’em and Omaha or the Antes and Bring-In in Stud. These forced bets comprise the starting pot in any given hand of poker, which is the first incentive players have to win the hand. Action arising from the subsequent rounds of betting further increases the size of the pot.
Dealing Cards and Betting Rounds
After any initial cards are dealt, players are usually called upon to act in turn, moving clockwise around the table.
Each player can usually take one of the following actions when it is their turn to act:
- Check – players can only check when there is no bet during the current round, and the act of checking passes the action clockwise to the next person in the hand. If all active players check, the round is considered complete.
- Bet – players may bet if no other players have bet during the current round.
- Fold – players who fold forfeit their cards and cannot win or act again during the current hand.
- Call – players can call if other players have bet during the current round; this requires the calling player to match the highest bet made.
- Raise – players may raise if other players have bet during the current round; this requires the raising player to match the highest bet made, and make a subsequent bet.
On each betting round, betting continues until every player has either matched the bets made or folded (if no bets are made, the round is complete when every player has checked). When the betting round is completed, the next dealing/betting round begins, or the hand is complete.
Additional cards, both hidden and visible, may be dealt to players after each betting round has finished, changing the best poker hand that each player may make with the cards available to them.
Once the last bet or raise has been called during the final round of betting, showdown occurs; the remaining active players must show or “declare” their hands, and the player(s) with the best ranking hand(s) win the pot.
Players often show their hands in order, rather than all at the same time. Multiple players can share a single pot, with the pot divided in different ways depending on the game rules and how each player’s hand ranks against their opponents.
Visit our Hand Rankings page to learn more about the different combinations of cards that make up the various poker games hand rankings.
Betting limits refer to the amount players may open and raise. Typically, poker games are of the following limit types; no limit, pot limit or fixed limit.
- No Limit – in poker games with a no limit betting structure, each player can bet or raise by any amount up to and including their full stack (the total number of chips they possess at any given time) in any betting round, whenever it is their turn to act.
- Pot Limit – in poker games with a pot limit betting structure, each player can bet or raise by any amount up to and including the size of the total pot at that time.
- Fixed Limit – in poker games with a fixed limit betting structure, each player can choose to call, bet or raise, but only by a fixed amount. The fixed amount for any given betting round is set in advance.
Learn more about the various poker games we offer in our Poker Games page, which links to all of the pages further explaining the rules of each poker variant.
Now you’ve got the rules, what’s stopping you? Download and play!