Poker, although it has numerous versions which are played online, has a very basic set of rules which applies to all formats. First of all, a standard pack of 52 cards is used, with some games adding jokers. The cards are all ranked 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A with 2 being the lowest and A being the highest; however A can also be counted as the lowest card as well. Some games also have jokers or other designated cards which are deemed wild, meaning they take on the value the holder wishes. There are also four suits which are diamonds, hearts, clubs and spades; however no suit is considered to be of a higher value than another. All formats of poker, online or in walk-in casinos, are played with hands that consist of five cards.
Hands in all poker games are ranked the same way, with Five of a Kind being the highest hand but can only occur in games where wild cards are permitted. The next highest hand, or “natural” highest hand in a regular poker game with no wild cards is called a Royal Flush, which means the hand contains A-K-Q-J-10 (or also abbreviated as T), all in the same suit.
Next is a Straight Flush, meaning 5 consecutive cards in the same suit; for example 4-5-6-7-8 of spades. Four of a kind, meaning four cards of equal value in different suits is the next strongest hand. If there are two hands containing four of a kind at showdown in a match, then the four of a kind containing the higher ranking cards wins.
A Full House is next on the rankings list after Four of a Kind, and consists of a three of a kind and a pair. In the case of a tie, it will be broken by the higher ranking three of a kind.
After a Full House comes a Flush, which means five non-consecutive cards of the same suit. In case of a tie, the high card will break it.
Following the Full House is the Straight, meaning 5 cards in order of different suits. When straights are tied, the highest value straight will take the pot; however if the straights are of equal value and contain the same value cards, the pot gets split.
Next is Three of a Kind, which simply means three cards of the same value. If there is a tie, the higher value wins. After Three of a Kind comes Two Pairs; in the case of a tie the higher value pair wins. If both pairs in both hands are the same, then the highest value fifth card in the hand determines the winner.
The penultimate hand in value is One Pair; the highest value pair wins in the case of a tie, and if the pairs in both hands are of the same value, the hand with the highest value non-matched card wins.
The lowest value hand which can win is the High Card, meaning no combinations exist amongst the hands in play. The winner is the hand with the highest value card.
All formats of online poker also involve rounds of betting and each game has similar rules with minor variations. The betting adds another dimension of psychological skill therefore, before one decides to play poker, one must decide which game one wants to play as well as which strategies one wishes to follow. Rules of the most popular online poker games and basic strategies will be discussed in following articles.