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Poker School
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  The Suits and the Four Basic Fields of Life

From clubs to batons, coins to diamonds, the French set the standard design as we know them today - Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades.

The four suits are used in the same way that the four earth elements are used in astrology; they define the four basic fields of life - emotions, thoughts, the material world, and our physical selves. 







A Royal Flush including ace, king, queen, jack, and ten all in the same suit, which is the hand of the highest possible value when wild cards are not in use.







A straight flush is the best natural hand. A straight flush is a straight (5 cards in order, such as 5-6-7-8-9) that are all of the same suit. As in a regular straight, you can have an ace either high (A-K-Q-J-T) or low (5-4-3-2-1). However, a straight may not 'wraparound'. (Such as K-A-2-3-4, which is not a straight). An Ace high straight-flush is called a Royal Flush and is the highest natural hand.


Four of a kind is simply four cards of the same rank. If two or more hands tie, the hand with the highest ranking four of a kind wins. If, in some bizarre game with many wild cards, there are two four of a kinds with the same rank, then the one with the high card outside the four of the kind wins. General Rule: When hands tie on the rank of a pair, three of a kind, etc, the cards outside break ties following the High Card rules.


A full house is a three of a kind and a pair, such as K-K-K-5-5. Ties are broken first by the three of a kind, then the pair. So K-K-K-2-2 beats Q-Q-Q-A-A, which beats Q-Q-Q-J-J. (Obviously, the three of a kind can only be similiar if wild cards are used.)


A flush is a hand where all of the cards are of the same suit, such as J-8-5-3-2, all of spades. When flushes tie, follow the rules for High Card.


A straight is 5 cards in order, such as 4-5-6-7-8. An ace may either be high (A-K-Q-J-T) or low (5-4-3-2-1). However, a straight may not 'wraparound'. (Such as Q-K-A-2-3, which is not a straight). When straights tie, the highest straight wins. (AKQJT beats KQJT9 down to 5432A). If two straights have the same value (AKQJT vs AKQJT) they split the pot.

Three of a kind

is three cards of any rank, matched with two cards that are not a pair (otherwise it would be a Full House). Again, highest three of a kind wins, in the event of a tie. If both are the same rank, then compare High Cards. (if wild cards are used.)

Photo of playing cards
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Photo of poker cards. Four of a kind
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Hand Ranking


is two distinct pairs of cards and a 5th card. The highest pair wins ties. If both hands have the same high pair, the second pair wins the tie. If both hands have the same pairs, the high card wins.


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One pair with three distinct cards. High card breaks ties.

Basic Rules
The Lingo

 Poker is a game of chance. However, when you introduce the concept of betting, poker gains quite a bit of skill and psychology. (This isn't to say that there isn't skill at poker when nothing is at risk, there just isn't nearly as much).


This is meant as a very basic primer into the rules of poker.

This list is currently broken into several parts:


1. The Very Basics

2. How the Hands are Ranked

3. Descriptions of Hand Ranks

4. Betting

5. An Example 5-Card Draw Hand


The Very Basics:

Poker is played from a standard pack of 52 cards (some variant games use multiple packs or add a few cards called jokers). The cards are ranked (from high to low) Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace (Ace can be high or low, but is usually high) 


There are four suits (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs); however, no suit is higher than another. All poker hands contain five cards, the highest hand wins.


Some games have Wild Cards, which can take on whatever suit and rank their possessor desires. Sometimes jokers will be used as wild cards, other times, the game will specify which cards are wild (dueces, one-eyed jacks, or whatever).

For poker lingo and more information on how to play poker in the World Series of Poker format, please go to


So, how do you bet? Poker is, after all, a gambling game. In most games, you must 'ante' something (amount varies by game, our games are typically a nickel), just to get dealt a hand. After that, players bet into the pot in the middle of the table. At the end of the hand, the highest hand (that hasn't folded) wins the pot. Basically, when the betting gets around to you (betting is typically done in clockwise order), you have one of three choices:


When you call, you bet enough to match what has been bet since the last time you bet (for instance, if you bet a dime last time, and someone else bet a quarter, you would owe fifteen cents to call).


When you raise, you first bet enough to match what has been bet since the last time you bet (as in calling), then you 'raise' the bet another amount (which is up to you, but there is typically a limit). Continuing the above example, if you had bet a dime, and the other person raised you fifteen cents (up to a quarter), you might raise a quarter (up to fifty cents). Since you owed the pot fifteen cents for calling and twenty-five for your raise, you would put forty cents into the pot.


When you fold, you drop out of the current hand (losing any possibility of winning the pot), but you don't have to put any money into the pot. Betting continues until everyone calls or folds after a raise or initial bet.

Game Variations


           An Example Five Card Draw Game:


Five card draw is one of the most common types of poker games. Each player is dealt five cards, then a round of betting follows. Then each player may discard up to three cards on the draw (four if your last card is an ace or wild card, in some circles) and get back (from the deck) as many cards as he/she discarded. Then there is another round of betting, and then hands are revealed (the showdown) and the highest hand wins the pot. So you are the dealer at a five card draw game against four other players, Alex, Brad, Charley and Dennis (seated in that order to your left). Everyone puts a nickel into the pot (Ante) and you deal out five cards to each player.You deal yourself a fairly good hand Ks-Kd-Jd-5c-3d. A pair of kings isn't bad off the deal (not great, but not bad). Then the betting starts...

  • Alex 'Checks' (checking is basically calling when you don't owe anything to the pot).

  • Brad bets a dime.

  • Charley calls (and puts a dime into the pot).

  • Dennis raises a dime (and puts twenty cents into the pot).

  • Well, it's your turn. Twenty cents to you. You can fold, call or raise. Like I said before, a pair of kings isn't bad, not great but not bad. You call and put twenty cents into the pot.

  • Back to Alex, who grumbles and tosses his cards into the center of the table, folding. (Note: when folding, never show your cards to anyone).

  • Brad calls. The total bet is twenty cents, but he had already bet a dime, so he owes a dime, which he tosses into the pot.

  • Charley is in the same position as Brad, and in turn tosses a dime into the pot.

The round of betting is now over. After Dennis' raise, everyone else folded or called (there weren't any raises) so, everyone is all square with the pot. Now everyone can discard up to three cards. Brad discards three cards, Charley discards one card, and Dennis discards two cards. (You deal replacements to everyone) and now it's your turn. You have a pair of kings, three spades, and no chance for a straight. It's best to just keep the two kings and hope to get a third or fourth king. You discard the three cards, and your new hand is: Ks-Kd-Kc-4c-8h. Three Kings! A nice little hand.


What do you suppose the others were trying for? Well, Brad kept two cards, so he probably had a pair (just like you) but it probably wasn't aces, so even if Brad got three of a kind, you probably beat him. Charley kept four cards, so he was probably trying for a straight or a flush. (If Charley had four of a kind, he might have bet much harder). The big problem is Dennis. He raised earlier, and only drew two cards. He might be bluffing, but he could have had three of a kind off the deal...


In any case, the second round of betting starts to the dealers left:


  • Brad bets a nickel.

  • Charley folds (I guess he didn't get his straight or flush).

  • Dennis raises twenty cents (to a quarter total).

  • You call.

  • Brad looks at his cards, then calls (betting twenty cents).

  • Again, everyone called Dennis' raise, so the round of betting is over.


Well, the betting is over, and everyone reveals his hand:

  • You had Ks-Kd-Kc-4c-8h.

  • Brad had Jh-Jd-3c-3s-Ah.

  • Dennis had Qh-Qs-Qd-As-7s.


Well, the highest hand is three of a kind, and the highest three of a kind is your three kings. 

You win!

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