Master Poker rules

Poker is a global favourite and has spawned many variations over the years, broadening its reach and giving it wider appeal. Each variant utilizes the same basic rules of poker but adds a unique spin to the game. Before you hit the tables, let us school you in basic poker know-how including rules, bets and what is a poker odds calculator.

The objective

The objective in poker is to win the pot, which consists of all players’ bets for that round. When you win you get poker chips from the live dealer, which are then deposited as real money into your online casino account.

You can win this by having the highest-scoring hand or betting an amount that no other player matches. When you win the round you earn poker chips that are then translated into money.

Poker hands ranking

The table below illustrates how poker hands rank from highest to lowest.

Poker handWhat it is
Royal FlushA, K, Q, J and 10 of the same suit
Straight FlushFive sequential poker cards of the same suit
Four of a KindFour poker cards of the same value, e.g. 10s, or 6s
Full HouseThree poker cards of the same value, and another pair of equal value, e.g. J, J, J, 5, 5
FlushA hand with all five poker cards of the same suit
StraightFive poker cards of different suits, but sequential numbers: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Three of a KindThree poker cards of equal value
Two pairTwo pairs of poker cards
PairTwo poker cards of equal value
High CardThe highest card in your hand if you don’t have any of the above configurations.

Pre-flop, Flop, Turn, River, Showdown

Pre-flop, turn, flop, river, and showdown refer to actions at the start of each round after the dealer deals your two hole cards. 

Dealer button

In traditional poker, the role of dealer rotates around the table. Players use a marker to indicate the dealer for the round. With the advent of online poker, the dealer has become a centralized non-playing player who deals each round, so the task doesn’t fall to the individual players.

Online poker still uses the dealer button to indicate the nominal dealer who gets the last action on the round. This allows each player to take advantage of their table position. After each round, the button moves one place clockwise.

Big and small blinds

The blind refers to a compulsory bet at the start of a round unique to two table positions. The blind is a set value per table. The player to the left of the dealer button is called the small blind, and the player two spaces left of the button is the big blind. The small blind bets half the value of the big blind, and the game commences once those two mandatory bets are in.

No limit, pot limit and limit – Explained

Different poker games have different betting limits. You can join a table that suits your style of play and your bankroll. 

At a no-limit poker table, you can raise by or bet any amount up to, but not exceeding, the size of your stack. A pot limit means that you can stake any amount up to the size of the pot. As the pot increases over rounds, the limit also increases. In fixed limit poker, you can only bet, raise or call by a preset amount.

Rule variations

Even a globally popular game like poker is subject to occasional Poker rules variations. While these don’t change the game’s objective, they may determine your strategy. 

Texas Hold-Em is the most widely-played poker variant worldwide. However, the most reputable online casinos in New Zealand have a range of variants that you can play. These include 7-Card Stud, Five-Card Draw, Jacks or Better, Caribbean Stud and Pai Gow Poker.

Types of bets in Poker

The key to your poker enjoyment and success is understanding the types of bets. Depending on your poker strategy, you may favour one action over another. 

For example, if your strategy is to bluff your opponents into thinking that you have a stronger hand than you do, you might raise rather than call. Your table position can also dictate the strategy that you employ. The more comfortable you are with the rules of poker and bet types, the more you can incorporate strategic play into your game.  

A poker game revolves around betting, and when your turn comes around, you can take one of several actions. Which one you take depends on factors like your table position, the poker pot odds, possible hands and your bankroll.

Call in Poker

Here, you match the current poker stake with the same value. By calling, you commit to staying in the game until your turn comes around again. 

Raise in Poker

If you choose to raise, you increase the size of the existing bet. To do this, you must first match the existing bet before raising the poker stake to the desired amount.

Fold in Poker

Folding is a good option if you can’t make a significant hand with your cards and haven’t mastered a bluffing strategy. You forfeit your cards and stake when you fold and take no further part in the round.

Poker “All in”

Going all-in means committing your whole stack to the bet to stay in the game even if you don’t have sufficient chips to call the existing bet. Any bets placed after your turn goes into a side pot from which you‘re exempt should you win. You can also go all-in if you have an unbeatable hand, but this is a risky move. 

Poker odds and payouts

Poker odds indicate the likelihood of getting the cards required to make a winning hand, and you can use a poker odds calculator to work this out at any stage. The following table shows a poker hands calculator – showing how the poker hands’ odds change depending on whether you’re at the flop or turn stage of the round. 

Draw#OutsFlop to TurnTurn to RiverTurn & River
Pocket Pair to Set24.3%4.3%8.4%
One Overcard36.4%6.5%12.5%
Inside Straight Draw48.5%8.7%16.5%
Two Pair to Full House48.5%8.7%16.5%
One Pair to Two Pair or Trips510.6%10.9%20.3%
No Pair to Pair612.8%13%24.1%
Two Overcards to Overpair612.8%13%24.1%
Set to Full House or Four of a Kind714.9%15.2%27.8%
Open-ended Straight Draw817%17.4%31.5%
Inside Straight  and Two Overcards1021.3%21.7%38.4%
Inside Straight & Flush1225.5%26.1%45%
Open-ended Straight & Flush1531.9%32.6%54.1%

House edge in Poker

The house edge is the percentage of bets that the game keeps over its lifetime. In video poker, the house edge is usually low. In live online poker, you play against other players rather than the house, so the amount varies according to the size of the pot.

How to play Poker – Breakdown of a round

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from a standard round of poker.

  1. The dealer deals each player two hole cards.
  2. After the blinds are placed, the person to the left of the big blind starts the betting by choosing to bet, call or raise.
  3. The dealer discards the next card in the deck and places three community cards, the flop, face-up.
  4. Betting continues with the first player sitting to the left of the dealer button and moves clockwise.
  5. The dealer again discards the top card from the deck and lays down another community card, called the turn.
  6. Further betting ensues, again from the first player still in the game sitting to the left of the dealer button.
  7. The dealer lays down the final card, called the river and the last round of betting commences.
  8. The players left in the game reveal their cards, and the best hand takes the pot.

Play for free before you play for money

While Poker is easy to learn, it is difficult to master. This is why most online casinos let you play demo Poker for free without signing up.

You can take advantage of this feature and practise poker for free at top online casinos. Once you learn the basics and be more confident, you can sit at the Poker table! Visit our home page for more info.

Frequently asked questions

The river is the final community card placed on the table and signals the last betting round.
A Straight Flush is a run of five consecutive cards, like 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, whereas a Royal Flush is a consecutive run starting with an Ace, so A, K, Q, J, 10.
The live table host acts as the dealer for every round.

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