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The basic form of poker is Draw Poker and that is the place to start if you are new to the game. It is no longer common in online casinos but all other forms of the game are derived from this one.

The aim of Draw Poker is to make the best hand you can from 5 cards. The player may discard some or all of their cards after the initial round of betting and receive replacements. How many cards may be discarded and how many rounds there will be depend on the rules set out at the beginning of the game. All cards are discarded and dealt face down - no cards are revealed until the final showdown.

Poker Hands

Poker Hands are ranked as follows, highest first:

  • Royal Flush: A-K-Q-J-10, all same suit
  • Straight Flush: any five consecutive cards, all same suit
  • Four-of-a-Kind: four cards, same value (eg. four 7's)
  • Full House: Three-of-a-Kind and a Pair
  • Flush: any five cards of the same suit
  • Straight: any five consecutive cards
  • Three-of-a-Kind: three cards, same value
  • Two Pair
  • Pair
  • No Pair: five dissimilar cards, mixed suit

All suits are ranked equally, and traditionally there are no wild cards in Draw Poker.

Course of Play

The game begins with determining the dealer. The deal rotates around the table clockwise - if you've just dealt then the person on your left deals next.

Ante Up

Before the dealer deals the cards, each player who wishes to play the hand must ante in - the ante is a small flat fee paid to the pot that lets the player play in that round. After all the players have anted in, the dealer dealers one card to each player, face down, around the table until all players have 5 cards.

Pass, Bet or Fold

Players pick up their cards and assess their hand. The player to the Dealer's left opens the betting round by either placing a Bet, indicating a Pass by placing no bet, or Folding by discarding their hand.

Call and Raise

The next player to the left now has the opportunity to Bet. Or they can Fold. If the previous players Passed then they can Pass too or place a Bet of their own. If other players have Bet and they wish to stay in the round they must Call by matching any outstanding bets. They can then Raise by placing a bet of their own.

The betting then moves to the next player on the left, then the next, and so on back to and including the Dealer.

Once the Dealer has placed their bet, the other players must Call any outstanding bets or Fold. Generally speaking, no Raises are permitted once the betting has passed around to the Dealer.

Discarding

Players may now Discard any or all of their cards based on their hopes of building a better hand. Cards are discarded face down and collected by the Dealer.

Replacements

The Dealer now deals each player, starting on the left, their replacement cards, face down.

As before the Player on the Dealer's left begins the betting and the betting proceeds around the table.

Again, the Dealer gets the final Raise. Then everyone else must Call or Fold. Finally, the remaining players are ready for the Showdown.

If at any time there is only one player left in the game they take the pot. This player is encouraged to keep their cards hidden and muck them to the Dealer.

Showdown

After the final betting round, and all the necessary Calls, the players still in the game have reached the Showdown. The player's hands are revealed. The best hand wins and the winner takes the pot.

If there are tied winning hands then the rank of the individual cards determines the winner. For instance Full House of Aces over Jacks beats a Full House of Kings over Jacks. If it's still a tie and there are no kickers (spare cards not used to build the final hand) then the pot is split.

If the rank of the individual cards doesn't determine the winner, then the kicker(s) of higher rank determines the winner. If it's still a tie, the pot is split.

If there are no "name" hands (all players have No Pair), then the highest ranking single card is declared the winning hand. If it comes to a dead tie (no clear winner, all cards same rank) then the pot is split.

Suit is never used to determine a winner in Poker.