Poker Rules

The tutorial below provides a quick snapshot of how poker is played.

How Do You Win?

Typically, the winner of each hand of poker is the player that holds the highest ranked hand when all cards are shown at the end of the hand – known as the ‘showdown’ – or the player that makes the last uncalled bet, thus winning without needing to reach a showdown.

The hand rankings are as follows - the strongest hands are in the top row, running from left to right, with the weakest possible hand being simply a high card:

At IKKAA, the varieties of poker, i.e. Texas Hold’em and Omaha, use the traditional ‘high’ poker rankings.

Traditional High Poker Hand Ranks

Straight Flush: Five cards in numerical order, all of the identical suits.

poker-rules-1

In the event of a tie: Highest rank at the top of the sequence wins.

The best possible straight flush is known as a royal flush, which consists of the ace, king, queen, jack and ten of a suit. A royal flush is an unbeatable hand.

Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank, and one side card or ‘kicker’.

poker-rules-2

In the event of a tie: Highest four of a kind wins. In community card games where players have the same four of a kind, the highest fifth side card ('kicker') wins.

Full House: Three cards of the same rank, and two cards of a different, matching rank.

poker-rules-3

In the event of a tie: Highest three matching cards wins the pot. In community card games where players have the same three matching cards, the highest value of the two matching cards wins.

Flush: Five cards of the same suit.

poker-rules-4

In the event of a tie: The player holding the highest ranked card wins. If necessary, the second-highest, third-highest, fourth-highest, and fifth-highest cards can be used to break the tie. If all five cards are the same ranks, the pot is split. The suit itself is never used to break a tie in poker.

Straight: Five cards in sequence.

poker-rules-5

In the event of a tie: Highest ranking card at the top of the sequence wins.

Note: The Ace may be used at the top or bottom of the sequence, and is the only card which can act in this manner. A,K,Q,J,T is the highest (Ace high) straight; 5,4,3,2,A is the lowest (Five high) straight.

Three of a kind: Three cards of the same rank, and two unrelated side cards.

poker-rules-6

In the event of a tie: Highest ranking three of a kind wins. In community card games where players have the same three of a kind, the highest side card, and if necessary, the second-highest side card wins.

Two pair: Two cards of a matching rank, another two cards of a different matching rank, and one side card.

poker-rules-7

In the event of a tie: Highest pair wins. If players have the same highest pair, the highest second pair wins. If both players have two identical pairs, the highest side card wins.

One pair: Two cards of a matching rank, and three unrelated side cards.

poker-rules-8

In the event of a tie: Highest pair wins. If players have the same pair, the highest side card wins, and if necessary, the second-highest and third-highest side card can be used to break the tie.

High card: Any hand that does not qualify under a category listed above.

poker-rules-9

In the event of a tie: Highest card wins, and if necessary, the second-highest, third-highest, fourth-highest and smallest card can be used to break the tie.

Getting Started

Poker games typically feature a forced bet, such as the Big Blind and Small Blind in Hold’em and Omaha. These forced bets comprise the starting pot in any given hand of poker, which is the first incentive that players have to win the hand. Action arising from the subsequent rounds of betting further increases the size of the pot.

Dealing Cards and Betting Rounds

After any initial cards are dealt, players are usually called upon to act in turn, moving clockwise around the table.

Each player can usually take one of the following actions when it is their turn to act:

  • Check– To check is to decline the opportunity to open the betting. Players can only check when there is no bet during the current round, and the act of checking passes the action clockwise to the next person in the hand. If all active players check, those players remain in the hand and the round is considered complete.
  • Bet– Players may bet if no other players have bet during the current round. Once a bet has been made, other players must ‘call’ by matching the amount bet, in order to remain in the hand.
  • Fold– Players who fold forfeit their cards and cannot win or act again during the current hand.
  • Call– Players can call if other players have bet during the current round; this requires the calling player to match the highest bet made.
  • Raise– Players may raise if other players have bet during the current round; this requires the raising player to match the highest bet made, and then make a greater one. All subsequent players are required to call the raise or raise again (‘re-raise’) to stay in the hand.

Different variants of poker have different betting rounds. However, Texas Hold’em and Omaha are the two most popular poker games in the world and have identical betting structures, with four rounds of betting known as  pre-flop, the flop, the turn and the river.

The pre-flop betting round begins as soon as all players have received their hole cards, before any community cards have been dealt; betting on the flop occurs after the first three community cards are dealt; on the turn after the fourth community card; and on the river after the fifth and final community card.

On each betting round, betting continues until every player has either matched the bets made or folded (if no bets are made, the round is complete when every player has checked). When the betting round is completed, the next dealing/betting round begins, or the hand is complete.

Showdown

Once the last bet or raise has been called during the final round of betting, a showdown occurs; the remaining active players must show or ‘declare’ their hands, and the player(s) with the best ranking hand(s) win the pot.

Players often show their hands in order, rather than all at the same time. Multiple players can share a single pot, with the pot divided in different ways depending on the game rules and how each player’s hand ranks against their opponents.

Betting Limits

Betting limits refer to the amount players may open and raise. Typically, poker games are of the following types; no limit, pot limit or fixed limit.

  • No Limit– in poker games with a no limit betting structure, each player can bet or raise by any amount up to and including their full stack (the total number of chips they possess at any given time) in any betting round, whenever it is their turn to act.
  • Pot Limit– in poker games with a pot limit betting structure, each player can bet or raise by any amount up to and including the size of the total pot at that time.
  • Fixed Limit– in poker games with a fixed limit betting structure, each player can choose to call, bet or raise, but only by a fixed amount. The fixed amount for any given betting round is set in advance.

Table Stakes and All-in

You may have seen a poker scene in a movie or on TV where a player is faced with a bet for more chips than they have at the table, and is forced to wager a watch, a car or some other possession in order to stay in the hand. This may make for good drama, but it is not generally the way poker is played in real life!

All games on our site are played ‘table stakes’, meaning only the chips in play at the beginning of each hand can be used during the hand. The table stakes rule has an application called the ‘All-In’ rule, which states that a player cannot be forced to forfeit a poker hand because the player does not have enough chips to call a bet.

A player who does not have enough chips to call a bet is declared All-In. The player is eligible for the portion of the pot up to the point of his final wager. All further action involving other players takes place in a ‘side pot’, which the All-In player is not eligible to win. If more than one player goes All-In during a hand, there could be more than one side pot.

If you need further help in learning poker basics, please do not hesitate to Contact Us .

Now you’ve got the rules, what’s stopping you? Download and play!

Poker Stratergy

Poker Tips and Tactics

It’s been said that poker is easy to learn but hard to master. This page will give you some tips to help you become a winning poker player, with general poker advice and strategy for players new to the game, as well as some more advanced concepts to consider once you have a good handle on the basics.

Basic Poker Strategy Considerations

Decisions for the New Poker Player

Decide whether you want to play poker to win or to play for fun. To play at a consistently winning level requires both time and effort. In other words, it takes work. There is nothing wrong with playing poker for fun, but there is no reason to plan to lose, even when you are playing for fun. However, deciding which type of poker player you want to be before you start will make your decisions and sessions easier.

Make Good Decisions – the Results Will Follow

Even the best poker players in the world have losing sessions. Don't make the mistake of expecting to win every time you play. Your goal should be to play to the best of your ability in every session. If you do, the cards and winnings will take care of themselves as you improve.

Many players make the mistake of judging their poker playing ability based on the results of each session. Your goal should be to make the best possible play every time. The closer you come to this, the better your results will be.

The Mathematics of Poker

Poker is a mathematical game, and it’s a game of incomplete information. That may sound complicated, but it really isn't. On a very basic level, winning poker starts with the selection of which starting hands to play. If you enter the pot with the best hand more often than your opponents do, you will win more times than your opponents.

Beyond Starting Hands

Starting hand selection is fundamentally important, but it’s only one piece of the poker strategy puzzle. Once you have mastered solid starting hand guidelines and understand how they change by your position at the table, the next area you should work on is your play for the rest of the hand. The area that separates professional players from amateurs is that professional players tend to play much better than their opponents during the remainder of the hand, after the starting hand decisions are made.

This is especially true concerning the decisions made at the very end of every hand. These skills involve calculating pot odds, recognizing betting patterns, bluffing, and using position. The years of practice necessary to master the middle and end game play are well worth the effort, because even small improvements in a player’s abilities can have a tremendous effect on that player’s lifetime winnings.

Another meta-skill that should be part of a winning player’s poker strategy is avoiding tilt. Your opponents will use your emotions against you, but only if you let them. Emotional play results in poor decisions and lost money. Tilting and steaming can happen to anyone, and sometimes the only cure is a break from the game. That’s okay; the game will still be there ten minutes from now. In fact, it will still be there tomorrow.

More Advanced Poker Strategy Considerations

Different Styles of Play

One of the things that makes poker such a fascinating game is the sheer variety of different approaches, styles and ways to play. Most styles can be broken down into a combination of the following:

  • ‘Tight’: an approach that values caution, playing relatively few hands and not taking too many risks.
  • ‘Loose’: the opposite of tight, playing a lot of hands with a greater willingness to gamble.
  • ‘Aggressive’: an approach that involves a lot of betting, opening pots and making big bets to put others under pressure.
  • ‘Passive’: the opposite of aggressive, calling more often than betting, letting the opponent dictate how the action unfolds.

Think about your own approach when you play poker. Do any of the terms above describe you?

If your answer is ‘all of them and none of them’, you’re onto something. The ability to ‘change gears’ and switch up your style at the poker table is extremely useful, as playing any style too rigidly will make you predictable. However, we recommend that players starting out should try to focus on a ‘tight-aggressive’ combination.

Adopting this style should make you comfortable with betting aggressively, which is essential for long-term success, while trying to play mostly good hands before the flop can help you learn discipline and prevent you from getting into too many difficult situations with marginal hands. As you gain more experience and improve your game, you will be able to loosen up and vary your style, but you should always try to stay aggressive.

Understanding the Importance of Position

The dealer, or ‘button’, is usually the last player to act in a betting round, and acting last is a tactical advantage as you already know how your opponents have acted. The dealer position changes after every hand so this advantage is shared between all players to help keep the game fair.

To use this tactical edge in your favour, it’s generally wise to play more hands when in ‘late’ position (e.g. after most players have already acted) than ‘early’ position. Good players will often relax their starting hand requirements in late position, as the added benefit of position affords them greater flexibility and more options as the hand plays out.

If you’re playing opponents who have to act before you, it is said that you ‘have position’ on them, while they are ‘out of position’. This advantage can be significant.

Ensure Your Bluffs Make Sense

Good hand selection is always important, as is understanding that the more players you’re up against, the greater the possibility that at least one of them will have a strong hand. But you will also find situations where a well-timed bluff could win you a pot you might otherwise lose.

When a poker player bluffs, what are they trying to achieve? They are attempting to get their opponent to fold the best hand. It’s that simple. In most poker games the majority of your hands will be junk that you want to fold before the flop, or marginal hands you don’t want to commit too many chips with. When that’s the case, bluffing becomes very important because it gives you a second chance to win.

A successful bluff will convince your opponent that you hold cards that will beat them, so it’s important to consider how your play looks to them. If you really held the cards you want them to think you hold, would you have played the hand the way you did? Is the ‘story’ you are telling with your actions at the table consistent and logical?

When bluffing, make sure that you think through the whole hand to see if the story you are telling makes sense. If you just decide to put a bet out there as your last hope to win the pot then the chances are high that a smart opponent will see through it.

Knowing Your Odds and Outs

Odds are a way of expressing the probability of something happening. When tossing a coin, for example, there is an equal probability of the coin landing on ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ - we could express this probability as one to one (1/1, or ‘evens’) - for every one time it lands on ‘heads’, it’s likely to land on ‘tails’ one time as well. Now think about the odds of rolling a six on a six-sided die: for every one time it does land on a six, it’s likely to land on a different number five times, so we could express the odds of rolling a six as 5/1.

Now let’s look at a common situation in a poker game: you have four clubs and are waiting for that last club to fall on the river, which will make your flush and win you the pot. There are 13 clubs in a 52-card deck, and two of them are in your hand and another two are on the board, leaving nine clubs remaining. Discounting the two cards in your hand and the four on the board, there are 46 cards that could come on the river, nine of which will win you the pot - these nine cards are known as your ‘outs’.

So the odds of you making the flush are 37/9 (37 cards of the 46 cards will not make your flush, while nine cards will). This ratio of 37 to 9, and therefore your chances of making your flush, are approximately 4 to 1.

Working Out Pot Odds

We’ll use the example above to explore the idea of ‘pot odds’ - the ratio of chips you can win versus the chips you need to put in the pot.

Let’s say you’re heads up against one opponent, waiting to hit your last club on the river. There’s 10 already in the pot, and your opponent bets their last 10. You can call, hoping to hit the club, or fold. What is the correct play? Figuring out the math is easier than you think.

In this situation you’re being asked to pay 10 to try to win 20 - that’s pot odds of exactly 2 to 1. But as we know, the odds of you hitting your flush are closer to 4 to 1. Taking a 4/1 risk for a payout of only 2/1 is a bad play, you should fold your flush draw.

But what if there was already 90 in the pot when your opponent put in their last 10? In that case, you’d be asked to pay 10 to try and win 100 - pot odds of exactly 10 to 1. Being offered a payout of 10/1 when taking a 4/1 risk is a good move, in this instance you should call.

Poker Games

Texas Hold’em

Available in limit, pot limit and no limit action, Texas Hold'em is the game that our World Series main event champion Chris Moneymaker was playing when he won the crow. By far the most popular game in today's poker world, we have hundreds of ring game tables running right now as well as hundreds of tournaments every week.

Driven by the popularity of televised poker, Texas Hold'em has become the world’s most popular poker game. We’ll go into more detail below, but here are the key points you need to know:

  • Every player is dealt two cards, for their eyes only
  • The dealer spreads five cards - three at once, then another, then another - which can be used by all players to make their best possible five-card hand
  • Before and after each card(s) is revealed, players take turns to bet. To stay in the hand and see the next card, all players must have put the same amount of chips in the pot as each other
  • The best poker hand wins the pot
  • It’s a simple game to learn, yet has the potential to be played with a seemingly infinite variety of strategies, tactics and nuance.

The Rules of Texas Hold’em

In Hold'em, each player is dealt two private cards (known as ‘hole cards’) that belong to them alone. Five community cards are dealt face-up, to form the ‘board’. All players in the game use these shared community cards in conjunction with their own hole cards to each make their best possible five-card poker hand. In Hold'em, a player may use any combination of the seven cards available to make the best possible five-card poker hand, using zero, one or two of their private hole cards. To view the rankings of poker hands, visit the poker hand ranks page.

How to Play Texas Hold'em

The Blinds

In Hold'em, a marker called ‘the button’ or ‘the dealer button’ indicates which player is the nominal dealer for the current game. Before the game begins, the player immediately clockwise from the button posts the "small blind", the first forced bet. The player immediately clockwise from the small blind posts the "big blind", which is typically twice the size of the small blind, but the blinds can vary depending on the stakes and betting structure being played.

In Limit games, the big blind is the same as the small bet, and the small blind is typically half the size of the big blind but may be larger depending on the stakes. For example, in a ₹2/₹4 Limit game the small blind is ₹1 and the big blind is ₹2. In a ₹15/₹30 Limit game, the small blind is ₹10 and the big blind is ₹15.

In Pot Limit and No Limit games, the games are referred to by the size of their blinds (for example, a ₹1/₹2 Hold’em game has a small blind of ₹1 and a big blind of ₹2).

Depending on the exact structure of the game, each player may also be required to post an ‘ante’ (another type of forced bet, usually smaller than either blind, posted by all players at the table) into the pot.

Now, each player receives his or her two hole cards. Betting action proceeds clockwise around the table, starting with the player ‘under the gun’ (immediately clockwise from the big blind).

Player Betting Options

In Hold'em, as with other forms of poker, the available actions are ‘fold’, ‘check’, ‘bet’, ‘call’ or ‘raise’. Exactly which options are available depends on the action taken by the previous players. If nobody has yet made a bet, then a player may either check (decline to bet, but keep their cards) or bet. If a player has bet, then subsequent players can fold, call or raise. To call is to match the amount the previous player has bet. To raise is to not only match the previous bet, but to also increase it.

Pre-Flop

After seeing his or her hole cards, each player now has the option to play his or her hand by calling or raising the big blind. The action begins to the left of the big blind, which is considered a ‘live’ bet on this round. That player has the option to fold, call or raise. For example, if the big blind was ₹2, it would cost ₹2 to call, or at least ₹4 to raise. Action then proceeds clockwise around the table.

Note: The betting structure varies with different variations of the game. Explanations of the betting action in Limit Hold'em, No Limit Hold'em, and Pot Limit Hold'em can be found below.

Betting continues on each betting round until all active players (who have not folded) have placed equal bets in the pot.

The Flop

Now, three cards are dealt face-up on the board. This is known as ‘the flop’. In Hold'em, the three cards on the flop are community cards, available to all players still in the hand. Betting on the flop begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button. The betting options are similar to pre-flop, however if nobody has previously bet, players may opt to check, passing the action to the next active player clockwise.

The Turn

When the betting action is completed for the flop round, the ‘turn’ is dealt face-up on the board. The turn is the fourth community card in Hold'em (and is sometimes also called ‘Fourth Street’). Another round of betting ensues, beginning with the active player immediately clockwise from the button.

The River

When betting action is completed for the turn round, the ‘river’ or ‘Fifth Street’ is dealt face-up on the board. The river is the fifth and final community card in a Hold'em game. Betting again begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button, and the same betting rules apply as they do for the flop and turn, as explained above.

The Showdown

If there is more than one remaining player when the final betting round is complete, the last person to bet or raise shows their cards, unless there was no bet on the final round in which case the player immediately clockwise from the button shows their cards first. The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot. In the event of identical hands, the pot will be equally divided between the players with the best hands. Hold'em rules state that all suits are equal.

After the pot is awarded, a new hand of Hold'em is ready to be played. The button now moves clockwise to the next player, blinds and antes are once again posted, and new hands are dealt to each player.

Omaha High

Omaha is similar to Texas Hold’em in some ways, but the players receive four hole cards, and the hand must consist of exactly two cards from the player’s hole cards and exactly three cards from the board. (In Texas Hold’em the hands can consist of any combination of board and hole cards.)

Omaha High is a popular variation of poker in India and around the world.

Omaha poker is an exciting game derived from Texas Hold'em. Each player is dealt four private cards (‘hole cards’) which belong only to that player. Five community cards are dealt face-up on the ‘board’. In Omaha games, all players use exactly three of the community cards together with exactly two of their hole cards to make the best five-card poker hand. No more, and no less. To view the rankings of poker hands, visit the poker hand ranks page.

Types of Omaha Poker Games

  • Pot Limit Omaha Poker- A player can bet what is in the pot (i.e. ₹100 into a ₹100 pot). This is the most popular form of Omaha Poker.
  • No Limit Omaha Poker- A player can bet any amount, up to all of their chips.
  • Fixed Limit Omaha Poker- There is a specific betting limit applied in each game and on each round of betting.

Below is a general explanation on how to play Omaha poker. The basic rules for all Omaha variants are the same, with the exception of the different betting structures between them. More details on these different betting structures follow.

How to Play Omaha Poker

Basic Strategies

In Pot Limit and No Limit Omaha games, the games are referred to by the size of their blinds (for example, a ₹1/₹2 Omaha game has a small blind of ₹1 and a big blind of ₹2).
Betting then commences from the player to the left of the big blind.

In Fixed Limit Omaha games, the big blind is the same as the small bet, and the small blind is typically half of the size of the big blind, but may be larger depending on the stakes. For example, in a ₹2/₹4 Limit game the small blind is ₹1 and the big blind is ₹2. In a ₹15/₹30 Limit game, the small blind is ₹10 and the big blind is ₹15.

Now, each player is dealt their four hole cards. Betting action proceeds clockwise around the table, starting with the player ‘under the gun’ (immediately clockwise from the big blind).

Pre-Flop

After seeing his or her hole cards, each player now has the option to play his or her hand by calling or raising the big blind. The action begins to the left of the big blind, which is considered a ‘live’ bet on this round. That player has the option to fold, call or raise. For example, if the big blind was ₹2, it would cost ₹2 to call, or at least ₹4 to raise. Action then proceeds clockwise around the table.

Note: The betting structure varies with different variations of the game. Explanations of the betting action in Limit Omaha, No Limit Omaha, and Pot Limit Omaha can be found below.

Betting continues on each betting round until all active players (who have not folded) have placed equal bets in the pot.

The Flop

After the first round of betting is complete, the ‘flop’ is dealt face-up on the board. The flop is the first three community cards available to all active players. Play begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button. Another round of betting ensues. In Fixed Limit Omaha, all bets and raises occur in increments of the small bet (for example, ₹2 in a ₹2/₹4 game).

The Turn

When betting action is completed for the flop round, the ‘turn’ is dealt face-up on the board. The turn is the fourth community card in an Omaha game. Play begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button. Another round of betting ensues. In Fixed Limit Omaha, bets and raises on the turn are in increments of the big bet (for example, ₹4 in a ₹2/₹4 game).

The River

When betting action is completed for the turn round, the ‘river’ is dealt face-up on the board. The river is the fifth and final community card in Omaha poker. The final round of betting begins with the active player immediately clockwise from the button.

The Showdown

If there is more than one remaining player when the final betting round is complete, the last person to bet or raise shows their cards, unless there was no bet on the final round in which case the player immediately clockwise from the button shows their cards first. The player with the best five-card hand wins the pot. Remember: in Omaha, players must use two and only two of their four hole cards in combination with exactly three of the cards from the board. In the event of identical hands, the pot will be equally divided between the players with the best hands.

After the pot is awarded, a new Omaha poker game is ready to be played. The button now moves clockwise to the next player.

Rake Structure

GameIKKAA Rake (HU)Rake Cap (HU)IKKAA Rake (Non HU)Rake Cap (Non HU)
1-23.30%204.10%30
2-43.30%254.10%40
3-63.30%304.10%50
5-103.30%504.10%100
10-203.30%754.10%150
25-503.30%754.10%200
50-1002.90%1003.55%250
100-2002.90%2003.45%350
200-4002.90%2503.30%400
250-5002.50%3003.20%450
300-6002.20%4002.45%500
500-10002.20%4502.45%600
1000-20002.00%4502.45%600
1500-30002.00%4502.45%600
2000-40002.00%4502.45%600

GST extra as applicable