Poker Rules, Odds, and Payouts

The complete beginners' guide

So you want to learn poker but don’t know where to start? You are in the right place. By the end of this guide, you will know what poker is and how to play it responsibly.

A Breakdown of a hand – Poker rules

Mastering poker requires a clear understanding of poker rules and how the game is played. Below you will find a step-by-step breakdown of a standard round of poker. Since there are many variations of this game, we have selected Texas hold’em as our reference. 

Learn the rules of poker 

As we stated before, you must first understand poker rules before you can play this game effectively. This includes understanding the objective of the game,  poker hand ranking, limit variations, and general rules among other concepts. 

Fund your balance 

After you are comfortable with the rules, it’s time to fund your account. But a word of warning – this must be done with the utmost care. Make sure you are playing with money you are comfortable losing. 

Blinds post the minimum bet

Now is when the game starts in earnest, with the player to the left of the dealer posting a small blind. This is a small wager required, usually half the minimum bet required to get things going. The next player to the left is also required to place a big blind (minimum bet) before any cards are dealt.

The dealer deals a first round – hole cards 

Each player then gets two cards (hole cards) face down and then decides how they want to play the game. 

Pre-flop betting round: Decision time 

The are several decisions to make in a game of poker. Your action will depend on the potential your hand shows to become a good one. But as we have seen before, some players can bluff their way to winning with a relatively weak hand. 

Here are some of the decisions you can make 

  • Bet: adding a wager to the pot
  • Raise: increasing the wager from the previous bet  
  • All in: wagering all your chips 
  • Fold: surrender the hand  

First 3 cards aka The Flop

After the first round of betting and decision-making, the dealer deals three community cards. This is referred to as the flop. The cards are dealt face-up and visible to all players. 

Post-flop betting round 

Another round of betting commences where players are again called upon to make decisions. These are whether to check, bet, or fold. 

The fourth card aka The Turn

Following the post-flop betting round, the dealer deals a fourth community card. This is called the turn. 

Post-turn betting 

The same sequence ensues, where players must again make decisions to bet, check, or fold.

The fifth card aka The River 

The fifth and final community card is dealt after the post-turn betting round. This is called the river. 

The showdown – The final betting round

The last round of betting happens at this stage. Players face off in a showdown to see who has the best hand or courage to take the game to the end. 

Winner takes all

If two or more players are still in the game after the showdown, players must reveal their cards for the dealer to determine the best hand. Here the winner takes all and the game starts over. 

All Poker Rules

Now that you can picture what a standard poker round looks like, let’s look at some of the most common rules you will come across when you play this game. Here we will discuss the objective of the game, hand rankings, blinds, and more. 

The objective 

The whole idea behind poker (the objective) is to win the pot. You can do this in a variety of ways. These include:

  • Having the best hand 
  • Being the last player standing after other players fold and fail to call your bet

Poker hand ranking 

This is one of the most important aspects of the game. Luckily, poker hand rankings are straightforward. Check out our table below.

Hand Rank Name Example 
1Royal flushA, K, Q, J,10 – same suit 
2Straight flush 5 consecutive cards – same suit  
3Four of a kind 4 cards of same rank + one other card 
4Full house 3 cards of same rank + 2 cards of another rank
5FlushAny 5 cards – same suit 
6Straight Any 5 consecutive cards
7Three of a kind 3 cards of same rank + any 2 other cards 
8Two pair 2 cards of one rank + 2 cards of another rank + any other card
9One pair 2 cards of one rank + 3 cards of different ranks 
10High cardHighest ranking card

Turn, Flop, River

Even if you only understand the most basic poker rules, you must familiarize yourself with the following terms.

  • Turn – the 4th community card
  • Flop – the first 3 community cards dealt at the center of the table
  • River – the last and 5th community card before the showdown

Dealer button 

The dealer button shows the player who is acting as the dealer. It is important for 2 main reasons. First, it allows you to easily see the order of play, and it also sets wagers by players to the immediate left of the dealer as small and big blinds. 

Big and small blinds 

Texas hold’em poker rules dictate that 2 players must kick off a round of betting by placing a stake in the pot. These mandatory bets are called big and small blinds and are required from players sitting on the immediate left-hand side of the dealer. 

No limit, pot limit, and limit – explained 

The type of online poker you play determines how much you can bet. There are 3 versions here, no limit, pot limit, and limit poker. No-limit poker is pretty self-explanatory, as there are no limits to how much you can wager on each hand. Wagers in pot-limit poker are restricted by the size of the pot, and limit poker has preset controls on how much you can stake.    

Rule variations 

At the beginning of this guide we stated that this material is based on Texas Hold’em poker rules. It’s important to understand that poker variations have different rules and gameplay. For a complete overview of poker variants available in PA online casinos, visit our poker variants page. 

Understanding Poker Terminology

Here is a list of the most important poker casino terminology you must know before you play. 

Backdoor When a player makes a hand with the last two cards dealt. This play is often unintentional.
Bad beatAn expression used in poker when a player with a strong hand loses to a player with a weak hand by mere chance or luck of the deal.
Bluff / Bluffing When a player pretends to have a better hand than they do to entice the other player(s) to fold.
Community CardsCommunity cards are cards that are dealt face up and used by all players.
CounterfeitCounterfeiting is when a player’s hand isn’t improved by the community cards, making it more difficult for them to hold the best hand in the round.
FoulA hand determined by the dealer as one that cannot be played in this round. A player with a foul hand cannot win any portion of the pot of that round.
Free CardA free card occurs when a player does not have to wager more during the action round before the dealer plays the next card.
High CardWhen there are no matches during the round, the highest card in the round is the winner. If two players have the same high card, they will refer to their next highest card.
KickerThe hole card that helps determine the winner of a round in case of a tie. For example, both players tie on a pair of Aces, the player with the highest hole card in their hand will be the winner of the round.
LimpWhen a player calls the minimum wager required in order to play in the round.
NutsWhen a player has the best hand possible in any point of the game.
Off-SuitedWhen a player is dealt two cards of differing suits.
OmahaA poker variation that involves each player receiving four face-down cards and playing with five community cards. Players attempt to make the best hand possible by using two of their face-down cards to go with three of the community cards on the table.
OutrunOutrun or outdraw refers to when a player draws a better hand than their opponent(s).
Over-PairWhen a player has a pocket pair that is higher than any of the community cards on the table.
OvercardA player’s hole card that ranks higher than any of the community cards on the table.
QuadsWhen a player has four of a kind.
Side CardA side card is also referred to as the kicker. This card will help determine the winner of the round in case of a tie.
Texas Hold’EmThe most popular and most common poker variation found at casinos. The game is played with each player receiving two hole cards and the dealer displaying five community cards. The players must play both hole cards to create the best hand possible in order to win.
TiltWhen a player begins to play poorly due to lack of judgment and their emotions taking over during the game.
Under the GunThis is the person that is first to act in the round of wagering.

Types of Bets in Poker 

Poker is a game of decisions, and the choices you make have a bearing on the outcome of the game. While there are some poker strategies you can employ to manage your game, the overall outcome will depend on how you handle poker bets and options. 

Poker bets and options 

There are only 5 decisions you can make in a poker game.


When a player matches the last wager made. *NOTE* You must call in order to raise.


 When a player increases the previous bet made.


When a player gives up on a round and forfeits their wagers in the pot.


When a player stakes all their chips.


When a player doesn’t add more to the pot but wants to stay in the game. You can only check when another.

Poker Odds and Payouts 

If you ask any legit poker player, they will tell you they understand poker odds and payouts, and their impact on the house edge. These help you make better decisions on whether to call, fold, raise, or check depending on what’s left in the deck. Here is an example of what we are talking about. 

Poker Rules, Odds, and Payouts – Your starting point to playing like a pro!

When you start learning something new, there is always the risk of diving straight into the deep end without familiarizing yourself with the basics. But as any seasoned craftsman will tell you, a solid foundation built on fundamentals will take you a long way. 

Learning poker is no different, that’s why you need to understand rules, odds, and payouts. In this guide, we covered the rules of poker, how to get started, odds and payouts, types of bets, and more. If you have been following from the beginning, you are well on your way to playing like a pro.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best way to learn poker rules is to find a trusted source of information and learn as much as you can. Our website at has a wealth of information that you can use to learn poker rules. It is worth noting though that learning poker rules from our site is just a starting point. You will need to find a regulated poker site where you can practice for free before you play for real money.
Poker is a game of skill. The decisions that you make have a bearing on the outcome. So even though there is an inherent element of luck, players who learn poker rules, odds, and payouts have a distinct advantage.
No. Poker rules are not the same. They change depending on the variant you play. So it is critical that you poker for the poker version you wish to play.
The objective in Texas Hold'em is to win the pot. You can do this by having the best hand or being the last player standing after other players fold and fail to call your bet. Texas Hold'em also has game-specific rules that you can find on our site.