Poker School

Cards

Hand Rankings

The standard deck of cards has 54 cards -- 13 playings cards in four different suits and two jokers (jokers are removed from the deck for Texas Hold'em). The four suits are Clubs, Diamonds, Spades, and Hearts. Each suit has an Ace card; numbered cards from 2-10; and three "court" or "face" cards, the Jack, Queen, and King.

In Texas Hold'em, the ace may be used as either the low card (one) or high card (following the king). For example, both of the following are legitimate straights (in a game, the second hand is the winning hand):

  • Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5     (5-high straight)

  • 10, J, Q, K, Ace   (ace-high straight)

​​ROYAL FLUSH

The Royal Flush (sometimes called the Royal Straight Flush) is the highest hand that can be dealt. It is also the rarest, so don't expect to see a lot of these. In fact, don't be surprised if you never see one.

In a Royal Flush, all five cards must be of the same suit, numerically sequenced, begin with the 10 card and end with the Ace.

 

 

STRAIGHT FLUSH

A straight flush is a hand that contains five cards in sequence, all of the same suit, such as Q♣ J♣ 10♣ 9♣ 8♣ (a hand that meets the requirements of both a straight, and a flush). Two such hands are compared by their card that is ranked highest. Aces can play high or low in straights and straight flushes: 5♦ 4♦ 3♦ 2♦ A♦ is a 5-high straight flush, also known as a "steel wheel".

 

 

FOUR OF A KIND

Four of a kind means you have four cards with the same numeric value in each of the four suits.

If two players have four of a kind (and there is no higher hand), the player of the four of a kind with the highest numeric value wins. For example, in the following two hands, Player One is the winner:

  Player One: 8 8 8♠ 8♣ (winner)

  Player Two: 5♥ 5♦ 5♠ 5

FULL HOUSE

A full house is a combination of three of a kind (three cards with the same numeric value in three different suits) and one pair (two cards with the same numeric value in two different suits).

If two players have a full house (and there is no higher hand), the player of the full house with the highest ranking three of a kind wins. For example, in the following two hands, Player One is the winner:

  Player One: K♠K♥K♦2♠2♣ (winner)

  Player Two: Q♥Q♦Q♣A♦A♥



FLUSH

Whenever you have a flush, it means you have five cards of the same suit (hearts, spades, clubs, or diamonds).

If two players have a flush (and there is no higher hand), the player of the flush with the highest ranking card wins. For example, in the following two hands, Player One is the winner:

  Player One: K♥10♥5♥3♥2♥ (winner)

  Player Two: Q♦10♦9♦8♦4♦

 

 

 

STRAIGHT

Whenever you have a straight, all of your cards are in numerical sequence.

If two players have a straight (and there is no higher hand), the player of the straight with the highest ranking card wins. For example, in the following two hands, Player One is the winner:

  Player One: 7♥8♥9♦10♠J♥ (winner)

  Player Two: 2♦3♥4♣5♦6♣

 

THREE OF A KIND

Three of a kind means you have three cards with the same numeric value in three different suits.

If two players have three of a kind (and there is no higher hand), the player of the three of a kind with the highest numeric value wins. For example, in the following two hands, Player One is the winner:

  • Player One: 6♦ 6♥ 6♣ (winner)

  • Player Two: 4♥ 4  4


 

TWO PAIRS

Two Pair means you have two pairs of cards where is each "pair" consists of two cards of the same numeric value.

If two players have two pair (and there is no higher hand), the player with the highest ranking pair is the winner. For example, in the following two hands, Player One is the winner:

  • Player One: 8♣ 8♥ 2♥ 2♣ (winner)

  • Player Two: 7♥ 7♦ 6♣ 6

 

If two players have two pair and matching high cards, the player with highest ranking second pair is the winner. For example, in the following two hands, Player One is the winner:

  • Player One: 8♣ 8♥ 7♥ 7♣ (winner)

  • Player Two: 8♠ 8♦ 6♣ 6

 

ONE PAIR

One Pair means you have one pair of cards that consists of two cards of the same numeric value.

If two players have one pair (and there is no higher hand), the player with the highest ranking pair is the winner. For example, in the following two hands, Player One is the winner:

  • Player One: 8♣ 8♥ (winner)

  • Player Two: 7♥ 7

 

If two players each have one pair of the same numeric value, the player with highest ranking card from their other three cards is the winner. For example, in the following two hands, Player One is the winner:

  Player One: 88763♥ (winner)

  Player Two: 88652



 

Basic Rules

Every player is dealt two cards face down – these are called your 'hole cards'. Then there is a round of betting where you can Check, Bet or Fold. This stage of the game is known as pre-flop and what you should do is quite dependent on those hole cards, or starting hand.

 

When all the betting has finished three shared cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. This is called the flop.

 

After this there is another round of betting, then a fourth shared card – called the turn – is dealt.

 

There is another round of betting then a final shared card – called the river – and a final round of betting.

 

Your best hand will be made by using your hole cards and the five cards in the middle to make the best possible five card poker hand.

 

So, for example, if you have 9-9 and the shared cards are 9-9-A-5-2 you have four-of-a-kind. If the shared cards were J-Q-K-7-2 you would only have two nines.

 

Sometimes the best hand is made by the five shared cards on their own. If they were 10-10-10-10-A and you had 9-9 your hole cards would not play as there is a four-of-a-kind of higher value already showing.

 

There are two ways a hand can end.

 

One is when the players in a hand turn over their hole cards and the player with the best hand wins. This is known as a showdown.

 

The other is that someone will bet enough that everyone else folds. This is how most hands end in Texas Hold'em and that's the magic of the game – you don't always need the best hand to win.

 

The Lingo

Action: The betting within a poker hand. If you bet first, you are starting the action. Games described as having a lot of action have a lot of betting.

All-In: To place all of the chips you have on the table into the pot.

Back Door: A draw that requires two cards to complete a straight, flush, or full house. For example, to complete a flush the correct suit must hit on the turn and the river.

Bad Beat: Losing a hand in which you were a decisive favorite to win before the river card.

Bankroll: The amount of money you have available with which to play poker over a particular period of time.

Bet: To place money into the pot.

Blind: Forced bet that must be made before the cards are dealt.

Bluff: To bet with an inferior hand in the hope that your opponents will fold.

Board: Community cards.

Bottom Pair: Having a pair containing the lowest card on the board.

Button: A token that represents the dealer position (the last to act in most games after the first round).

Call: To place an amount of money equal to a previous opponent's bet.

Check: To decline to bet or to pass when it is your turn to act.

Check-Raise: To check and then raise if an opponent bets.

Community Cards: Cards placed in the middle of the table and shared by all players.

Drawing Dead: Drawing to a hand that, even if it hits, will lose to a hand that is already better.

Favourite: To have the best chance to win.

Flop: The first three community cards in Texas Hold'em and Omaha.

Gutshot: A straight draw that requires a card in the middle to hit to complete the straight. It is also called a "belly buster" and an "inside straight draw."

Hand: The cards in a player's hand or one game of poker in which a pot is won. When you hear or read this term, understand it in its context so you won't be confused.

Heads-Up: Playing against a single opponent.

Hole Cards: The first cards dealt to you that your opponents cannot see.

Implied Odds: Bets that you can reasonably expect to collect in addition to the bets already in the pot if you hit your hand.

Kicker: A card used to break ties. In Hold'em, if you have A-5 with an ace on the board, your 5 is your kicker. If an opponent also has an ace and their kicker is higher, you lose.

Limit: The set amount or amounts that may be bet, often expressed as 5/10 ($5 bets on the first two rounds and $10 bets thereafter).

Limp-In: To enter a hand with a call before the flop.

Loose: To play more hands than should be played.

Middle Pair: To have a pair containing the second highest card on the board.

Muck: To discard a hand.

Outs: Cards that can come that will improve your hand.

Overcard: A card that is higher than other cards, usually in reference to community cards that are higher than your hole cards.

Pair: Two cards that are the same rank (such as two kings).

Pockets: When your hole cards contain a pair.

Position: Your place in the order of betting action. If you act first, you are in first position.

Pot: All money that has been bet in a hand.

Pot Odds: The mathematical computation of the odds of your hand improving, the amount of money in the pot, and the size of the bet you must call.

Quads: Four of a kind (such as four aces).

Raise: To place a higher bet than an opponent has already placed.

Rake: The amount a card room takes from each pot, usually a percentage that has a set upper limit.

Re-raise: To raise after an opponent has raised.

Semi-bluff: To bet with a hand that may not be the best but has a good chance to improve to the best hand.

Set: Three of a kind (such as three jacks).

Short Stacked: To have the smallest stack of chips at the table.

Side Pot: An additional pot created when one player is all in and two or more other players are still betting.

Steal: To force an opponent to fold when you don't have the best hand.

Suited: Cards of the same suit (such as 4 and 7).

Tell: An action that a player makes that gives away the strength of their hand.

Tight: To play fewer hands than normal.

Tilt: When a player is emotionally upset and starts making poor decisions.

Trips: Three of a kind (such as three queens).

Under the Gun: The first person who must act on the first round of betting.

 

Betting

 In Texas Hold'em, players are always faced with the ability to choose one of three options: Check (or call). Bet (or raise). Fold. (In a scenario where you can check, folding makes no sense, but it's still an option.)

 

To call is simply to match the previous bet made (a check is the same thing, only when no bet has been made: in other words, a check is a call for free).

 

To fold is to throw away your hand and wait until the next deal to play again. Folding is always free.  If there has been no bet made yet, you have the option to bet. Once a bet is made, players to follow now have the option to raise the bet.

 

In No-Limit a minimum bet is equal to the size of the big blind, while a maximum bet is the total amount of all of your chips. (Only chips that were included in your stack before the cards were dealt for that hand count, meaning you can't add (or remove) chips during a hand.)

 

Once a bet has been made, the minimum you can raise is the size of the last bet. So if your opponent bets $5, the minimum raise you can make is $5 (for a total bet of $10). Again, the maximum raise is the total of whatever you have in front of you.

 

How big a No-Limit Hold'em cash game is played is determined by its blind size. A $2/$3 game will have $2/$3 blinds.

Generally the minimum buy-in will be 20 big blinds (so $60 in our example), and the maximum will be 100 big blinds ($300), though there are some casinos that spread games with no maximum buy-in.

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