Poker Games, Rules & How to Play Online
Although there are as many variations to poker as there are home games in the world, Pala chooses to offer several classic standard games. In offering classic poker games online, Pala Poker encourages solid play by standardized rules and etiquette that is commonly accepted as official standards throughout the organized poker world. We seek to assure a comfortable, fair, and enjoyable experience of some of the most popular and established games.
If you are new to the game of poker, read on to learn how to play poker and the rules of each game.
Poker Rules & Types of Games
Texas Hold’em is a “flop game.” As such, it utilizes a combination of two cards privately held (“hole cards”) by each individual player plus five community cards that are progressively laid out on the table or “board.”
After the first two cards are dealt and a betting round occurs, the dealer lays out the flop of the first three community cards on the board; then, another betting round occurs. The next board card is laid out and is known as the “turn”; then, another betting round occurs. Finally, the last community card – the “river” – is laid on board; a final betting round occurs. The community cards are shared by all players in the hand. The players use their own two hole cards plus the five community cards to make a hand consisting of the best possible combination of any five cards to make the highest possible ranked poker hand. A player may choose to use both hole cards plus any three community cards, or may choose to use one hole card and four community cards, or may choose to use five cards from the board to make his or her hand. No suit outranks any other; hands are ranked by rank of cards only; therefore, if two competing flushes of different suits contain the exact same rank of cards, the hand would be declared a tie and the pot would be split or “chopped.”
The process of play includes a “Button” position, and typically two forced pre-hand bets known as the “Blinds” (because the bets are put in before a player even sees any cards). For example, in a 2-4 game, the player immediately to the left of the button is the “Small Blind” and must put $2 on the table, and the player immediately to the left of the small blind must be the “Big Blind” and put $4 on the table prior to seeing any cards. After the two hole cards are dealt out, with the first card dealt to the small blind and the last card dealt to the button, then the person to the immediate left of the big blind must act first, before the flop. After the flop, the small blind position – or the position closest to the left of the small blind if the small blind folds – acts first to check or bet, and the action proceeds clockwise so that the button is in the privileged position of acting last. Note that being the “Button” is generally considered the best position to be in because the button gets to see what everybody else does before having to decide what to do.
Hold’em, like all the other poker games, can be played either as a “limit” game or a “no-limit” game. In a Limit game, there are limits to what a player can bet at various points in the game; for example, in a typical 2-4 Fixed Limit game, bets and raises are in increments of $2 pre-flop and flop, and then $4 on the turn and the river. Usually, there is also a limit on the number of raises, generally three raises over a bet “caps” the betting for that stage. In No Limit games, a person can bet as many chips as he or she has on the table at any stage of the hand… betting it all is the famous “All In” move, and a player declares “I’m all-in.”
Although Hold’em is currently the world’s most popular poker game, it is certainly not the only game in town! The best poker players are versatile, and can learn and play all of poker’s classic varieties including Hold’em, Omaha High, Omaha Hi/Lo, Stud, and Stud Hi/Lo.
Let’s take a look at the other exciting poker games that Pala offers…
Omaha Poker is played similarly to Hold’em in most respects. Omaha, like Hold’em, is a flop game, and the community board cards are laid out in exactly the same manner as in Hold’em: three card flop; one card turn; one river card. Button and blinds operate exactly like Hold’em. However, unlike Hold’em, each individual player holds four private hole cards from which to choose to combine with the community cards. An essential point must be noted, though, and players must be careful to keep this point at the forefront of their minds as they examine the possible combinations they can choose to make their best hand: in Omaha, a player MUST use TWO cards from his or her hole cards combined with exactly THREE cards from the board. To reiterate, out of the four hole cards, a player must use exactly two and only two of the four cards, and must combine those two hole cards with exactly and only three cards from the board. Rank of hands is exactly the same as in Hold’em, and only the best high hand takes (or splits, in case of a tie) the pot.
Omaha Hi/Lo play procedure follows exactly the same steps as Omaha. The twist is that the final pot is split between the best high hand and the lowest hand. It is possible that one player may take both sides of the split pot; namely, a player can make the best high hand AND the best low hand from the combination of hole cards and community cards.
Most commonly, Omaha Hi/Lo is played “8 or better” for low; in other words, in order to Qualify for a low hand to split with the high hand, the highest card in a low hand must be 8 or lower. Also, a low hand cannot contain a pair! So, it is important to understand that a hand like A 2 2 3 5 does not qualify for a low, even though the highest card in that hand is a 5. Pairs kill a low hand, but straights and flushes do not. The best low hand is A 2 3 4 5. Such a hand is called a “Wheel” because not only is it the best low hand, it can turn around and be used as a straight to attempt to take the high end of the pot as well. The most powerful of all hands in a Hi-Lo game is a “Steel Wheel” which is A 2 3 4 5 of the same suit… it is the best low as well as being a straight-flush for high!
A player may use any two cards from his or her hole cards to make high, and any two cards from his or her hole cards to make low. NOTE: A player can use the same two cards to make both a high hand and a low hand, or may use two different cards for high and two other, or even one of the same and one other, of his or her four hole cards to make low. A good way to look at this is to keep in mind the rule for Omaha: only and exactly two cards from the hole cards to make a hand. So, only and exactly two (out of the four) hole cards to make high; then take another look, and only and exactly two (out of the same four) hole cards to make low. If there is no qualifying low, the high hand wins the entire pot, or splits it if there is a tie.
>>>Taking both sides of the hi/lo split is known as a “scoop,” as a single player scoops in the entire pot. More commonly, though, is that one player will take the high end, and a different player will take the low hand. Notice that it is possible that more than two players might split the pot; sometimes happens that one player has a clearly best high hand, and thereby takes the high half of the total pot, and two players tie for low, thereby splitting the half of the total pot that was reserved for the low hand. <<<
NOTE: Always display and keep control of all four of your cards, once they are laid on the table, so that the dealer and everybody else can “read” the hand. It is common in this game for players to not notice they have a low, or not notice that that Ace actually gives them the high end! Don’t leave money on the table! Don’t be shy about displaying your poker hand and letting the Dealer and the other players read the cards. CARDS SPEAK.
The following is a step-by-step procedure to play seven-card stud poker, a classic poker game. 7 Stud Poker is unlike the flop games of Hold’em and Omaha in that each player holds his or her own unique hand, and although several cards are exposed from each hand, there are no “community cards” shared by all. Note that you can also play this game “Hi-Lo” The following instructions are just for playing the traditional high-hand wins all version, but the general procedures are similar in Hi-Lo…
The most important thing to remember as you learn this card game is that (unless you fold before the last cards) you ultimately get 7 cards to pick from to make your final 5 card hand, and you don’t have to use any specific ones of the 7 you’re dealt, just whichever 5 give you the best hand.
- All poker players put in an ante.
- Starting to his/her left, the dealer deals each player two cards down (called hole or pocket cards) and one card face-up.
- Everyone looks at their hole cards.
- The player with the lowest card showing face-up has to put in a small bet called a “bring in.” Then betting continues to that low-card player’s left. Each player can call, raise, or fold their cards.
- After the betting is completed, another card is dealt to each player face-up. This card is also known as “fourth street” or “the turn.”
- Another round of betting occurs, starting now with the player with the highest cards showing. From fourth street on, the player with the highest cards showing will continue to be the first to bet.
- After betting is complete, the fifth card (fifth street or the river) is dealt face-up. More betting occurs, then the sixth card is dealt face up. More betting.
- The 7th and final card is dealt face-down to the players remaining in the hand. A final round of betting occurs.
- The players show their hands at the showdown. The player who can make the best five-card hand from the seven they were dealt, wins.
7 Stud Hi/Lo play procedure follows exactly the same steps as 7 Stud High. The difference is that the final pot is split between the best high hand and the lowest hand. One player may take both sides of the split pot; namely, a player can make the best high hand AND the best low hand from the combination of hole cards and community cards.
A player may use any five cards from his or her seven cards to make high, and any five cards from his or her hand to make low. NOTE: A player can use the same five cards to make both a high hand and a low hand, or may use different cards for high and low. So, like in other Hi-Lo games, a single player can “scoop” the pot!
Just like Omaha Hi-Lo, Stud Hi/Lo is usually played “8 or better” for low; in other words, in order to Qualify for a low hand to split with the high hand, the highest card in a low hand must be 8 or lower. Therefore, if no qualifying low hand appears, then the high hand wins! Also, a low hand cannot contain a pair! So, it is important to understand that a hand like A 2 2 3 5 does not qualify for a low, even though the highest card in that hand is a 5. Pairs kill a low hand, but straights and flushes do not. The best low hand is A 2 3 4 5. Such a hand is called a “Wheel” because not only is it the best low hand, it can turn around and be used as a straight to attempt to take the high end of the pot as well. The most powerful of all hands in a Hi-Lo game is a “Steel Wheel” which is A 2 3 4 5 of the same suit… it is the best low as well as being a straight-flush for high!
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