Guide to poker

Two aces being held as hole cards by a player in a poker game.

The classic game of poker is not so much a card game as it is a family of games, all of which share some common themes. Among these are a hierarchy of desirable hand configurations (the poker hands) and, usually, a betting procedure in which players use money to try to force other players out of the game so that they have fewer competitors when the best hand is determined.

Thus, there’s a lot more to say about poker than just about any other card game, and that’s before you even get into the depths of game strategy (of which thousands upon thousands of books have been written). The nice thing about poker, though, is once you become familiar with one game in the family, you are most of the way to learning how to play all of the others. (Though becoming good at them is an entirely different matter.) However, since poker is a social game played in settings from posh casinos to wooden tables in basements, rules do vary from game to game. Always ask about the house rules that are in effect if you’ve never played in a particular venue before.

Below, you’ll find everything on our site about poker, in an easily-digested form.

Basic mechanics

Procedures and protocol

Poker tournaments

Optional rules

Forms of poker

Games which don’t generally include betting are marked with an asterisk.