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Fundamental Poker Rules for Beginner Players: How to Play?

The game of poker comes in many different forms, but most of these different forms of poker share many of the same basic rules. By far the most popular form of poker is Texas Hold’em. Most poker games use a standard poker hand ranking system, so it’s important to know which hand wins directly when you turn up your cards and Poker Rules

Betting structures, such as no limit, pot limit and fixed limit, can be applied to many different card games. Below is a brief overview of some of the basic rules of poker. If you want to refresh the rules for a specific poker game, click one of the buttons above.  

About Hand Ranking

In most poker games, players are tasked with trying to make the best five-card poker hands using standard poker hand rankings. The following hand rankings apply to most variations of poker, with the exception of some games that use low-ball hand rankings. 

The best poker hand is the royal hand, the second highest hand is the straight, and so on. up to the highest card, and the lowest card. Royals and straights, as well as fours, fulls, threes, flushes and straights, usually represent the strongest hand when the match begins.

Overview of Blinds and Antes

The small blind and big blind functions are forced bets that form the backbone of the game in many poker variations. Texas Hold’em and Omaha, the two most popular Poker games in the world, use a blind system and it is important to know exactly how these forced bets to work. In games that use blinds, each hand begins with the big blind placed immediately to the left of the small blind. Players in these positions must bet a predetermined amount before each hand. The small blind is always just to the left of the dealer button.

What is the difference between Limits vs. No Limit?

No Limit

The term “no limit” seems simple. In any no-limit poker game, a player can bet all of his chips at any time. Most no limit games use a  blinds and buttons system and to learn more about this system see Blinds, Antes & The Button. For example, let’s say we’re looking at a no-limit cash game, played with $1/$2 bets. 

In this example game, six players sit at the table, each with $200 in chips. The small blind bets $1 and the big blind bets $2. The cards are dealt and the player immediately to the left of the big blind begins the preflop betting round. In all subsequent rounds, the small blind or the first player to the left of the small blind will start as the first bettor.


Many poker games, such as variations of Stud Poker, are almost always played with limited betting rules. However, any poker game can be played with a limited betting structure. Limit Texas Hold’em games are played with $2/$4 limits which usually means bet amounts of $1/$2. Limit games are played with  “small blinds” and  “big blinds”, with the big blind usually equaling the small blind. 

Many limit games use a structure where the maximum bet/raise is equal to a small bet in the early betting rounds and increases to a large bet in the later betting rounds. In each round,  betting is “capped” after three raises and subsequent players can only call after that. 

What is Cash Game Stake?

Go to the poker room and you might see a screen with a listing like “$1/$2 NL Hold’em” or “$4/$8 Limit Hold’em”. The listing “$1/$2 NL Hold’em” refers to the No Limit Texas Hold’em game with a small blind of $1 and a big blind of $2. The “NL” descriptor means that this game uses a no-limit betting structure, where players can bet all of their chips at any time.

The listing “$4/$8 Limit Hold’em” shows a Texas Hold’em game with a small bet of $4 and a high bet of $8. This game will be played with limited betting rules, meaning there is a limit to how much players can bet during each betting round. To learn more about betting structures, take a look at the Betting Rules tab above and scroll down to the section titled “Limit vs Limit”. Unlimited vs. Pot limit.”A typical buy-in for a no-limit cash game is 100 times the large blind, on average. The usual buy-in for the $1/$2 NL game would be $200.

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