Your Ultimate Guide to Poker Rules and Betting Strategy

Whether it's Hold'em, Omaha, Stud or Razz, the main poker variants are quick to learn, and it only takes the repetition of playing regularly to really get a feel for the cards. On this page we'll help you make the most out of your legal poker games by sharpening up your knowledge of the rules and offering you some useful betting guides. We'll take you through:

  • The poker basics
  • Hold’em poker deals
  • Hold’em poker betting
  • Omaha poker rules
  • Omaha betting and format
  • Razz poker basics
  • Razz poker deal and bets
  • Stud poker rules

Absolute poker basics

For the uninitiated we should start by saying poker is a gambling game played with a regulation deck of 52 cards. There are many varieties of poker you can play, both with a live dealer and if you’re playing legal online poker, but for the purpose of this section we shall focus on hold’em, Omaha, razz and stud.

Dealing for hold’em poker

Hold’em starts with players being dealt two facedown cards, with the player to the left of the dealer (the button) getting the first card and the button getting the last. After that three cards are dealt face-up to “the community” (the flop), which means they are available for everybody to use and placed in the middle of the table. There follows the deal of the “turn” or fourth card, and then “the river” or fifth card to the community.

Betting for hold’em poker

In hold’em poker there is a betting round before the initial deal of three cards. Another round of betting follows the flop, another one after the turn and one after the river. Players can fold at any point, so as soon as only one player remains he or she wins the pot. If more than one player is in after the river bet, a showdown occurs – with the winnings to the player producing the best five-card hand (using the two facedown cards plus three from the community).

Dealing for Omaha poker

The big difference between Omaha and hold’em is that players are dealt four facedown cards before the community cards. After the initial deal, three community cards are dealt face up, then another, then another.

Betting for Omaha poker

Things work the same way as they do for hold’em, with a bet placed before the first deal, then betting round after that deal, after the flop, after the turn and finally after the river. If a showdown is required, the winner is the player with the best hand made up of two cards from the blind round, plus three from the community cards.

The basics of razz poker

The aim of razz is to come up with the lowest possible five-card hand from the seven cards dealt.

Razz poker deal and betting

Players are dealt an initial three cards, with two facing down and one facing up. After that, three rounds of upcards follow, with a final facedown card to complete the deal. Bets are placed are every round, with a showdown required if more than one player is in the game after all is said and done.

The rules of stud poker

Seven-card stud poker is almost identical to the format described for razz, with the only difference that this time players are trying to put together the strongest hand possible from the seven they’re dealt. The player with the highest upcard total leads betting rounds, until all but one player folds or a showdown is called for.