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The Basics

There are 52 cards in a standard deck, plus additional Joker cards which may or may not be included in the type of game you are playing.

When dealing out the cards, you always deal to the left.

Is a poker game legal? In most cases it is perfectly fine to have a friendly poker game at your house, even play for money if you choose. If you have a home poker game, do not charge a fee or take a rake. Remember local laws will vary. Remember, unless you are running a nightly poker and casino in your basement, you won’t get arrested.

A rake is the fee you pay for playing in a supervised game. It is a small percentage of each pot that is taken by the house.

Causes For Misdeals

  • The 1st or 2nd card of the hand has been dealt face-up or exposed.
  • 2 or more cards have been exposed when being dealt.
  • 2 or more boxed cards (improperly faced cards) are found.
  • 2 or more extra cards have been dealt in the starting hands of a game.
  • An incorrect number of cards have been dealt to a player, except the top card may be dealt if it goes to the player in proper sequence.
  • Any card has been dealt out of the proper sequence.
  • The button was out of position.
  • The first card was dealt to the wrong position.
  • Cards have been dealt to an empty seat or a player not entitled to a hand.

Causes For Dead Hands

  • You fold or announce that you are folding when facing a bet or a raise.
  • You throw your hand away in a forward motion causing another player to act behind you.
  • In stud, when facing a bet, you pick your upcards off the table, turn your upcards facedown, or mix your upcards and downcards together.
  • The hand does not contain the proper number of cards for that particular game.
  • You act on a hand with a joker as a hole card in a game not using a joker.
  • You have the clock on you when facing a bet or raise and exceed the specified time limit.
  • Whether they are face-up or facedown, cards thrown into another player's hand are dead.

The Buy In

When starting out you must make a full buy-in for that particular game. Unless designated a full buy-in at limit poker is at least ten times the maximum bet for the game being played.

You are allowed to make only one short buy-in for a game. Adding to your stack is not considered a buy-in, and may be done in any quantity between hands.

A player who is forced to transfer from a broken game or must-move game to a game of the same limit may continue to play the same amount of money, even if it is less than the minimum buy-in. A player switching games voluntarily must have the proper buy-in size for the new game.

Betting And Raising

Check-raise is permitted in all games, except in certain forms of lowball.

In no-limit and pot-limit games, unlimited raising is allowed.

Unlimited raising is allowed in heads-up play. This applies any time the action becomes heads-up before the raising has been capped. Once the raising is capped on a betting round, it cannot be uncapped by a subsequent fold that leaves two players heads-up.

Any wager must be at least the size of the previous bet or raise in that round, unless a player is going all-in.

If someone is "all in", how much of the pot can they win? A person who is all in can win the amount of the pot that they have invested. Any additional bet starts a new "side pot" and can only be won by players contributing to that pot.

The smallest chip that may be wagered in a game is the smallest chip used in the antes, blinds, rake, or collection.

A verbal statement denotes your action and is binding.

Rapping the table with your hand is considered a pass.

Deliberately acting out of turn will not be tolerated. A player who checks out of turn may not bet or raise on the next turn.

To retain the right to act, a player must stop the action by calling 'time'. Failure to do so may cause you to lose the right to act. You can’t forfeit your right to act if any player in front of you has not acted, only if you fail to act when it legally becomes your turn. A player who bets or calls by releasing chips into the pot is bound by that action.

In limit poker, if you make a forward motion with chips and thus cause another player to act, you may be forced to complete your action.

To protect your right to raise, you should either declare your intention verbally or place the proper amount of chips into the pot.

If you put a single chip in the pot that is larger than the bet, but do not announce a raise, you are assumed to have only called so make sure you know what you are putting in the pot.

All wagers and calls of an improperly low amount must be brought up to proper size if the error is discovered before the betting round has been completed. In poker you must be alert and fully aware of what you are doing at all times.

The Showdown

A player must show all cards in the hand face-up on the table to win any part of the pot.

The dealer assists in reading hands, but players are responsible for holding onto their cards until the winner is declared.

Any player, dealer, or floor person who sees an error about to be made in awarding a pot, has an ethical obligation to point out the error.

All losing hands will be killed by the dealer before a pot is awarded.

If you show cards to another player during or after a deal, it is only fair that any player at the table has the right to see those exposed cards.

If everyone checks (or is all-in) on the final betting round, the player who acted first is the first to show the hand.

If there is a side pot, players involved in the side pot should show their hands before anyone who is all-in for only the main pot.

What is the order of winning hands? Please visit our hand rankings page for complete value and order of natural, winning poker hands.

When there is a tie in a seven-card game, do you go to the value of your 6th or 7th card to find a winner? No. This is a common mistake as poker always uses your best 5-card hand. All ties equal a split pot.

In poker games, suits (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs) are all considered equal, so there is not ranking of the suits.

If two people both have a flush, the winning hand is determined by the highest card.

If two players both have two pair, the player with the highest pair wins. If both players have the same pair, the winner is determined by whoever has the higher remaining card.

When two people have full houses, the player with the higher three of a kind wins.