Category Archives: Poker Rules

Checking the Nuts – Is It Legal?

Despite most poker players having a fair idea about the rules of the game and knowing what to do in certain situations, there are still a few regulations that go under the radar and are only known by long-term players. One thing that you may not be aware of is that, in live poker tournaments, checking the nuts can be a breach of the rules. Let’s delve into the subject in more detail so you are clear on how and why this occurs.

Before getting into the specifics of this rule, it is important to clarify that it mainly exists in live poker. When playing at online poker sites real money, players are usually able to check the nuts if they wish to do so. It may differ in certain tournaments online, however, so it is important to check the rules before you start playing. When you have got to a sufficient ability level at poker online, you may want to test your skills in a live scenario. This is when you need to know rules such as this one. Continue reading →

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Razz Poker Game Rules

When Chris Moneymaker took down the WSOP Main Event back in 2003, he not only helped ignite the poker boom, he made Texas Hold’em the world’s game of choice. Although the variant had long been one of the most popular choices for regular players, Moneymaker’s historic win turned it into a game the masses simply had to play. Indeed, fast-forward a year or two after he became World Champion and everyone was playing Hold’em. Today, however, the industry has evolved both online and offline and players young and old are branching out into different games. In fact, players such as Jason Mercier, who were once feared No Limit Hold’em tournament players, have successfully transitioned to other variants. For example, during the 2016 World Series of Poker, the American managed to win the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event as well as the 2-7 Lowball Championship. In addition to his outright wins, Mercier finished second in the $10,000 Razz Championship which attracted 100 entrants. While that number may pale in comparison to other variants, it’s markedly higher than the <50 it received just a few years earlier.

Like other non-Hold’em variants, Razz has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the last decade and that’s the game we’re going to describe for you today. Despite appearing somewhat strange from the outside, it’s actually a neat way of playing poker. Now, before we start to break down the mechanics of Razz, let’s start with a general definition of the game. In simple terms, Razz is a Seven Card Stud poker variant, which means there are no community cards as there are in Hold’em. As well as following a similar format to Seven Card Stud, Razz is also a lowball game. Perhaps the best way to describe what lowball means in this context is that it’s an “unusual version” of Stud that requires you to make the worst hand instead of the best. In other words, you’re looking to make the lowest ranked hand possible in order to win the pot. For seasoned players and poker pros, this change means that they need to reprogram their poker thinking and be alert, which is highly welcome since it enhances overall skill. We’ve seen an increase in Razz offerings online in recent years, too, and – considering current trends – we expect to see wider availability moving forward.

How to Rank a Razz Hand

In simple terms, the overall value of your hand is determined by the highest value card you hold. Straights and flushes don’t count in this game, so you don’t need to worry about them and, as you’d expect, pairs, sets and full houses are weak. Aces are also counted as low cards in Razz.

To show you what we mean by the “lowest” ranked hand, consider these two examples:

  • Player 1 is dealt the following seven cards: A-2-5-K-3-5-4

Like all forms of poker, the aim is the make the best five-card hand from those available. In this instance, Player 1’s best hand is 5-4-3-2-A.

  • Player 2 is dealt the following seven cards: 2-6-7-5-A-3-8

Again, Player 2 will be using their best five cards to make a hand, which in this case is 6-5-3-2-A.

In this scenario, Player 1 has the best hand because their highest card is a 5, while the highest card in Player 2’s hand is a 6.

How to Play Razz: From the Antes to a Showdown

Once you’ve got a basic understanding of how a hand is ranked, you’ll need to keep in mind that the action in Razz plays out in the following way:


As is the case in all forms of poker, each new round starts with a forced bet. In Razz, this bet is known as an ante and everyone must put in some money if they want to play the hand. The size of the ante is a fraction of the table stakes. For example, in a $10/$20 game, the ante would be $1.

Third Street

Once the antes are in, each player is dealt three cards: two face-down and the remaining card face-up. At this point, the player showing the highest card must make an extra bet, known as the bring-in. The size of this bet is, again, determined by the smallest of the pre-set table stakes. So, if we stick with our $10/$20 example, the bring-in would be $10. However, if the player doesn’t want to “complete” the bring-in and pay $10, they can pay half the amount.

Fourth Street

Following the bring-in, each player receives a fourth card face-up and the strongest holding gets to start the round of betting. This player can choose to check and pass the action on in a clockwise direction for free. Alternatively, the player can make a bet which is equal to the smallest side of the table stakes which, in our example, would be $10.

During a betting round, all players are free to check if there hasn’t been a bet before them. If a bet is made, all other players must call (match it) in order to stay in the hand. If the player doesn’t call, they can fold and give up.

Alternatively, a player can raise, doubling the size of the current bet. When a player raises, the action continues until everyone has either folded, matched the bet or raised again. Finally, because Razz is generally a limit game, raises are a fixed size (double the previous bet) and there is, typically, a maximum of four permitted raises per round.

Fifth Street

On fifth street, each player receives their fifth card (this one is face-up) and the player with the lowest cards will start the betting action again. At this point, the options to check or bet are exactly the same. However, from fifth street onwards, the starting bet will be equal to the largest side of the table stakes. In our example, this would mean the player that starts the betting on fifth street would have to make it $20.

Sixth Street

Action on sixth street is identical to fifth street.

The River

The seventh and final card is dealt face-down, which means each player now has three hidden cards and four exposed cards. Again, the person that starts the betting is the one showing the lowest set of cards and they have the option to either check or bet.

The Showdown

If more than one player is left once the betting is over, a showdown takes place. Unlike a showdown in Hold’em where players combine their two cards with the five cards , Razz hands are individual. In other words, a player reveals their seven cards and then pushes forward their five best ones. The winner is the one with the lowest hand based on the rules we described earlier.

That, in a nutshell, is how you play Razz poker. Although the concept of shooting for the worst hand might seem crazy if you’re used to variants such as Texas Hold’em, it actually makes sense in context. In fact, thanks to the game’s unique dynamics, there are plenty of ways you can use your poker skills to gain an edge on your opponents when you play Razz, and plenty of ways Razz can help you improve in other variants of poker.

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Stud Poker Game Rules

Stud poker is one of the most common variants of poker played throughout the world, and it was the most popular form of casino poker prior to the relatively recent popularity explosion of Texas Holdem. There are many variations to the core stud poker rules as defined by the classic game. The information here centers on the classic game, which uses a 52-card deck and allows for 2-7 players.


In the classic rules for stud poker, each player puts an into the pot. Then, starting at his or her left, the dealer deals a card to each player until each player has three. The dealer deals the first two of those cards facedown and the final card face-up. The facedown cards are pocket cards, also called hole cards.

Third Street

Now, each player examines his or her hole cards, and the player with lowest-valued face-up card must place an additional bet called the “bring-in.” The house establishes the ante and bring-in amount, or in a casual game, the players decide on it. A common format is the $5 game, in which case, the bring-in is $5, and the ante is 10-20% of that, or $0.50-1.00.

Fourth Street

After the bring-in, the stud poker rules call for the betting to continue to the left of the low-card player. Each player in turn has the right to call, raise, or fold. When that betting round is complete, the dealer deals an additional card face-up to each player. This phase is traditionally called the Fourth Street but also the turn. In this betting round, the high-valued visible card dictates first, but no bet is required. That player, and then each in succession, may check or bet. However, if a player bets rather than checks, each successive player loses the right to check and must either bet, fold, or raise.

Fifth and Sixth Streets

After Fourth Street, there are three additional rounds called Fifth Street, Sixth Street, and Seventh Street. During Fifth and Sixth Street, each player gets another card face up, but during the Seventh Street or river, the dealer deals the card facedown. Once Seventh Street is complete, the rules for stud poker call for a showdown.

Seventh Street

In the showdown, the aggressor, the last person to make a bet on Seventh Street, reveals their cards. In turn, each player to the left of the aggressor reveals their cards as well, or they can “” their hand facedown to concede. The player with the best 5-card hand using any of his or her seven cards wins the pot.

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Limit Hold’em Poker Game Rules

Limit Hold’em is mostly played in ring game format. This variant of hold’em plays the same as no limit texas hold’em, except for the betting structure. It is locked in increments that are tied to the name of the table. This structure of betting is often referred to as “limit poker” and sometimes “fixed limit” poker.

For example, at a $1-$2 limit table, the increments are $1 for the first two rounds of betting and $2 for the last two rounds. At the $5-$10 table, the bets are $5 each during the first two rounds and $10 each during the last two rounds. The small blind is usually half of the first bet, so at a $5-$10 table, the blinds would be $2 for the small blind and $5 for the big blind.

Betting is usually capped at four bets per round. So at a $2-$4 limit table pre-flop the big blind is $2. You may raise it to $4. I may re-raise it to $6, and someone else may cap the betting at $8. Then we see the flop. The river card at this table would see bets going from $4 to $8 to $12 and finally $16.

It seems pretty simple to understand, and it is. The only other thing to say about limit betting is that some casinos and even some online poker rooms will lift the betting cap when the pot is contested heads up. If there are only two players involved, they can re-raise each other until the cows come home. So in theory, on the river both players could raise and re-raise until they were both all-in. Having a non-cap on the amount of raises in limit hold’em is the exception and not the rule.

Of course saying that only the betting style has changed makes it seem like a subtle, perhaps unnoticeable difference between the limit and no limit games. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The simple shift in limiting the betting makes a huge difference in the strategy of the game.

If you haven’t sat down at a limit hold’em cash game table before, and are planning on doing so, please take the time to read over some Limit Holdem Strategy before playing. It would be easier to spend a few minutes reading than it would be suffering through a series of frustrating sessions finding out that some no limit poker techniques fail in the limit game.

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Open-Face Chinese Poker Game Rules

Open-Face Chinese Poker (OFCP) is a variation of Chinese Poker that has recently become very popular among the high-stakes community.

Despite its name, the game originated in Finland and like Chinese poker it makes use of thirteen cards per player drawn from a standard 52-card deck, which are arranged in three hands, also known as rows.

The game spread into Russia and subsequently to the United States, where it has become a favourite among high-rolling gamblers. Mostly found in ‘bricks and mortars’ casinos and poker rooms, rare forms of poker like this can also be sometimes be found online.


Open-face Chinese poker is usually played between two to three players, although it can accommodate four players a well.

Each player is dealt a total of thirteen cards which have to be arranged in three hands: the front hand consisting of 3 cards, the middle hand which is made up of 5 cards, and the back hand which also contains 5 cards.

The hands are also known as rows, since the back hand is laid closest to the player, the front hand furthest away, and the middle hand is sandwiched in between.

Cards are dealt clockwise, starting from the player sitting on the left of the dealer.

In the beginning, the players are dealt five cards (one at a time) face down each and, after deciding in which hand to allocate the first five cards, they are given one card at a time until the full complement of thirteen cards is reached. Cards are always set face up.

Once cards are placed in a hand, they cannot be put in a different one later on. This rule gives OFCP its element of risk and luck places a major part in determining who wins the round.


When arranging their cards in hands, the rules of regular Chinese poker apply here. The back hand must be better than or equal to the middle hand, and the middle hand must be better than or equal to the front hand.

The ranking of the 5-card hands (middle and back rows) is determined by standard poker hand rankings.

The ranks from lowest to highest are: High card, Pair, 2 Pair, 3 of a kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Straight Flush and Royal Flush.

For the 3-card hand (front) the rankings are different. You can win with either a High Card, Pair, or 3 of a kind. It is illegal to make straights and flushes in the front hand; therefore, the best hand possible is AAA.


The scoring system in Open-face Chinese poker is very simple. Your aim is to win the round by having the best hands in every row; you earn a point (also known as a unit) for each opponent’s corresponding hand you beat (e.g. back hand vs backhand), as well as bonus points (called royalties) for having certain good hands.

A point/unit corresponds to a predetermined amount of money that is agreed upon before the game starts.

If you beat your opponents on all three hands you earn a 3-point bonus for scooping (sometimes referred to as sweeping) the round.


Royalties, or bonuses, are extra points that are awarded for creating particularly good hands. The points you earn depends on the hand and the row it is placed in, as shown in the table below.


* The royalties awarded for a three of a kind in the front hand varies according to the value of the cards. This is shown in the table below.


After every player is dealt all their cards, the goal of the game is to achieve more points by comparing hands with your opponents and/or by collecting royalties/bonuses on premium hands.


The biggest risk in OFCP isn’t only losing a round, but committing a foul.

Fouling (or mis-setting) happens when the strength of your hands doesn’t abide by the rules of Chinese poker, namely that the back hand must be stronger than the middle hand and the middle hand stronger than the first hand.

When placing your cards in a row you must be careful not to make it stronger than it should be, in relation to the other hands. Since a card cannot be rearranged from its row, the final moments of OFCP are very tense as you risk getting a card that unwittingly makes your remaining unfinished hands stronger than they should be.

A player who fouls loses six points (one point per hand plus three point scoop bonus) per non-fouling player and each non-fouling player gains six points.


Fantasy land is a special bonus that is given to players who form a hand in their front row that contains a pair of queens (QQx) or stronger, without fouling. When a player triggers fantasy land, he or she will be dealt all thirteen cards at once in the next round, while the other players are dealt normally.


Open-face Chinese poker is played in major casinos in Las Vegas, such as The Venetian and the Bellagio, often as side game in poker tournaments. The game attracts high stakes players who often play for stakes as high as $1,000 per unit.

You can also try out OFCP on your mobile. Since 2013, there have been apps available for download on iPhone and iPad.

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Texas Hold’em Poker Game Rules

Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker game being played in casino poker rooms and online poker rooms from around the world. There are 3 types of Texas Hold’em poker:

  • Limit Hold’em (There is a certain bet limit, which is applied in each game and in each round of betting)
  • Pot Limit Hold’em (A player can make a maximum bet equal to the amount of the pot)
  • No Limit Hold’em (A player may at any time bet all his chips in front of him. By far the most popular poker game)

Texas Hold’em poker rules are very straightforward. Before the game is started, the system/dealer generates a new deck of cards for that hand. Online poker rooms usually use a so-called random number generator (RNG) to sort and shuffle cards. Below find a detailed explanation of the different betting rounds in No Limit Texas Hold’em.

Preflop – The 1st Betting Round
The person sitting to the left of the dealer button should bring the small blind and the player sitting next to him is the big blind. For each new hand the dealer button is moved clockwise to the next player. The small blind is half of the big blind (if $10/$20 game is played, is the small blind $10). Under certain circumstances it is possible that more than one player must post the big blind. This is the case if a new player enters the game and doesn’t want to wait for the big blind to come around to them before being able to participate in the game. In Hold’em all blinds are considered live, and the player who has set a blind has the option to check, raise or fold.

After the blinds have been posted, the hole cards are dealt to each person participating in the game. After two cards are dealt to each player, the first betting round starts. The first betting round takes place starting with the player to the left of the big blind. Each player now has the opportunity to place his bet for the first round of betting. The level of betting is equal to at least the amount of the big blind. For example, the amount set for the first round of betting in a $10/$20 would be $10. You can place bets by placing itself, call a bet of another player or increase the bet by raising. Each player can, of course, also fold their hand. Subsequent players have the same betting options. After the first betting round the Flop is dealt in the center of the table, (the first 3 cards that all players can use to make the best 5 card hand). These community cards are the same for every player.

Flop – The 2nd Betting Round
After the flop and in each subsequent betting round, the first player left of the button, which is still in the game, is the first to act. The 2nd betting round is also limited in the amount of betting the lower limit, ie, the minimum bet in a $10/$20 game is the big blind ($20) and there is no maximum bet. Bets can be placed, either by itself, called the use of a preceding player, or increased. What exactly can be done of course depend on what the previous players have done. Whoever is the first player to act has the option to start betting themselves, all other players can then call or increase only if the first player has not checked. Next comes the fourth community card, called the Turn.

Turn – The 3rd Betting Round
The 3rd betting round starts with the first player left of the button, bets and raises can now be made that are at least the size of the big blind. In a $10/$20 game you can bet a minimum of $20. Bets can be placed, either by itself is, walks with the use of a previous player or increased. What exactly can be done, of course, depend on what the previous players have done. Who was the first player to act has the option to set themselves, all other players can then call or increase only if the first player has not checked. Next comes the 5th community card, called the River.

River – The 4th Betting Round
The 4th and last betting round starts with the first player left of the button, bets and raises can be made again that are at least the size of the big blind. In a $10/$20 game you can bet a minimum of $20. Bets can be placed, either by itself, sets the use of a previous player called, or increased. What exactly can be done depends, of course, again on what the previous players have done. The first player to act has the option to set the bet amount, all other players can only call or increase the bet only if the first player has not checked. At , the best possible five-card poker hand using exactly two of your hole cards and three cards from the board wins the pot.

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