Poker Basics

Poker can be an entertaining and rewarding experience – once you understand how the game is played.  If you are new to the game, below are some poker explanations and rules made simple.  When the basics are understood, you are ready to play!

The objective of poker is like every other game – winning.  It’s a game of chance, but when betting is incorporated into the mix, poker becomes a game that involves skill, patience and psychology.  Starting with the standard 52-card deck, there are thirteen denominations and four suits, broken down into hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades.  Suits are meaningful but color means nothing in poker.  The lowest card in the deck is the two.  The highest is the ace.  In lowball poker games, the ace can also be treated as the low card.

There are several types of poker games, but there are common themes that apply to most of them.


There are several hands within a game of poker, and the object of each hand is to win the pot.  The winner is determined at the showdown, which starts after all the players remaining in the hand bet in the final betting round.  The player with the highest ranked hand wins the pot.

Depending on the type of game, cards can be dealt to each player that are concealed or not.  There are also games that involve community cards, where players put together a hand using a combination of their cards and the community cards.

Before each hand begins, players contribute to the pot by posting blinds or antes.  This ensures that there is money in the pot whether players decide to bet during each round or not.  Antes are fixed amounts and blinds are used in community-card games.

Betting rounds range depending on the poker game.  After a bet is made, a player’s options during a round of betting include folding, calling, raising or checking.  If all players check, the play proceeds to the next round.


Rake: The house charges a commission or “rake” as a percentage of the total pot won at the end of each real money hand.  The “rake” is calculated based on the number of players in the hand, and the size of the pot.  The commission (rake) is 5% and capped at a maximum of $3.

Betting is the engine of poker.  It’s what drives the game.  There are essentially four moves a player can make when it’s his or her turn to bet:


Call: When calling, you remain in the hand by putting the same amount in the pot as another player bet.

Raise: When raising, you increase the amount other players must pay to stay in the hand by adding chips to the original bet.

Fold: To drop out or quit the hand.

Check: To pass on betting when it’s your turn.  You can only check if you’re the first player to act or all the players before you have checked.


Betting – During games of Texas Hold ’em and Omaha at 5Dimes, each bet and raise during the first two rounds is at the lower limit of the stakes structure, e.g.  $4 in a $4/$8 game.  Each bet and raise during the last two rounds is at the higher limit of the stakes structure, e.g.  $8 in a $4/$8 game.

A player can bet up to four times per round.  This is known as a bet and three raises.  This would consist of (1) a bet, (2) a raise, (3) a re-raise, and (4) a cap.  It’s called a cap since betting is then capped and cannot be raised anymore.  Once the pot is capped, players can only call the cap or fold.

Check-raising is allowed in all games.

Button and Blinds – Hold ’em uses a button to indicate the theoretical dealer of each hand.

After each hand, the button moves clockwise to the next active player.  The player to the left of the button is first to receive a card and must post a small blind.  The small blind is half the lower limit bet, rounded down to the nearest dollar, and placed in the pot before the cards are dealt.  The player to the left of the small blind must post the big blind, equal to the lower limit bet, which is also placed in the pot before the cards are dealt.


For Example:
In a $4-$8 game the blinds would be small blind $2.00 and big blind $4.00.  This replaces the antes in 7-card stud.


The players who post the blinds have options when in clockwise progression the action returns to them.  For the small blind, the options are to call the remainder of any bets made, or to raise if there are still raises remaining (not yet capped).  For the big blind, the options are to check if no one has raised, to call if someone has raised or to raise if there are still raises remaining (not yet capped).  After the flop and each subsequent betting round, the first active player left of the button is first to act.

When a player first sits at an active table, they may post the equivalent of the big blind or players may sit out and wait to become the actual big blind before playing.  This rule ensures fairness to all players and stops potential abuses by preventing players from constantly entering games in late position and then leaving before they’re required to post the big blind.

All-Ins – Online poker games are played at “Table Stakes”.  This means that only the chip value you have in front of you at the start of a given hand can be used in that hand.  You can increase your “table stake” at any time in between hands.  NEVER DURING A HAND.

Sometimes during the course of a hand the betting will exceed a players “stake” and the player may not have enough to call a particular bet.  The player does not have to forfeit their hand at this point.  Should the player wish to continue, they can call the amount that they have in front of them and they will be declared “ALL IN”.  Any further action will create a side pot of which the “All In” player will have no claim to.  The limit of the number of side pots is only limited to the number of participants in a particular hand.  The player will have claim to the portion of the pot that they have contributed to.  This rule is exactly how it’s handled in Brick and Mortar card rooms.

Different from a B & M card room is the “ALL In” rule that occurs during Internet disconnects.

Our software can determine whether you are disconnected from the Internet during a hand.  Should this occur your hand would play and lay claim to the portion of the pot that you have contributed to, up to and until the disconnect.

You will notice in the game that you have a preset “all in” account.  This account has in it ONE (1) all in allowed in a 24 hour period.  Should this happen more than once in a 24 hour period, you can ask to have this account reset by e-mailing support and requesting an all in re-set.  Should this become a regular occurrence, please e-mail support to find out what suggestions we might have to help you increase the reliability of your connection.

If we determine that you are connected to the game your hand will be folded.  This is done to protect the integrity of the game.  Further if we feel that the “All In” policy is being abused, the abusing will be addressed and “All In” privileges may be revoked.

Players should exercise caution when their “All In” has been used.  Until your “All In” has been reset, your hand may be folded during a disconnect and you can lay no claim to the hand or the pot you were involved with immediately prior to the disconnect.

Buy-Ins – The minimum buy-in requirement for all games is 10 times the small blind/bet in the game.


For Example:
Buy-in examples would be $100 to enter the $10/$20 game, $50 to enter the $5/$10 game, $30 to enter the $3/$6 game or $5.00 to enter a 50¢/$1.00 game.

The common denominator in most poker games is the hand rank.  The harder hands to obtain have the greatest value.  Here’s a look from high to low:


Royal Flush: A combination of the highest straight (A-K-Q-J-10) and a flush.  Odds of being dealt this hand in five cards is 1 in 649,740.

Straight Flush: Any five cards in a row (i.e.  9-8-7-6-5), all of the same suit.  Odds in five cards is 1 in 72,193.

Four of a Kind: Four cards of identical rank (i.e.  2-A-A-A-A).  Odds in five cards is 1 in 4,165.

Full House: Three cards of one rank and two of another rank (i.e.  K-K-A-A-A).  Odds in five cards is 1 in 694.

Flush: Five cards of the same suit.  (i.e.  2-5-10-J-K of spades).  Odds in five cards is 1 in 509.

Straight: Any five cards in a row of any suit (i.e.  5-6-7-8-9 unsuited).  Odds of being dealt this hand in five cards is 1 in 255.

Three of a Kind: Also known as trips, any three cards of the same rank (i.e.  6-8-K-K-K).  Odds in five cards is 1 in 47.

Two Pair: Two pair of unrelated cards (i.e.  3-5-5-K-K).  Odds in five cards is 1 in 21.

Pair: The most basic hand in poker is the pair, two related cards (i.e.  3-5-7-9-9) Odds in five cards is 1 in 2.37.

2 Colors – A Clean Sweep hand in Chinese Poker, consisting of exactly 12 cards of one color and a 13th of the other.

13 Colors – A Clean Sweep hand in Chinese Poker, consisting entirely of either hearts and diamonds; OR clubs and spades.

Aces Up – A pair of aces with another pair. This term can be used with any 2-pair hand, e.g. 7s up – a pair of 7s with another pair below 7.

Action – The act of raising, checking, or folding. ‘Your action’ means it is your turn to act.

Acey-Deucy – When pocket cards are Ace (A), Two (2).

Ainsworth – When pocket cards are Six (6), Two (2).

Ajax – When pocket cards are Ace (A), Jack (J). Also known as foamy cleanser.

Alaska Hand: See King Crab.

All-in – A player who runs out of table stakes in the middle of a hand is ‘all-in’. Subsequent betting by other players thus results in a side pot. In this way, players can never be bet out of a hand simply for running out of money. Players who are all-in are only eligible for the money in the pot into which they contributed.

American Airlines – Long standing poker nickname for two pocket aces.

Ante – Money placed in the pot by all players before receiving cards. Typically, only stud games require antes.

Assistant – In Big 2, the player who plays immediately before the winner’s final discard. If the assistant fails to play the best possible hand before the winner’s final hand, the assistant must cover the other players’ losses.

Back Door Flush/(Straight) – So-called when both of the last two cards dealt make a player’s flush (or straight).

Back Hand – In Chinese Poker, the back hand is defined as the highest hand of the bottom set in the series of three. Also referred to as the ‘Big Behind’.

Bad Beat – A typically strong hand that loses to an even stronger hand.

Barbara Hutton – Ten (10), Five (5); from the name of the dime store (five and dime) heiress.

Baskin Robbins – Three (3), Ace (A); from the ice cream chain’s ’31 flavors’.

Beer Hand – Seven (7), Two (2).

Bicycle (or Wheel) – A straight to the 5. Example: A ♣ 2 ♦ 3 ♥ 4 ♣ 5 ♣.

Big Bet – An amount of money wagered in the later betting rounds. In $10/$20 Hold’em, the big bet is $20.

Big Blind – The amount that the second player to the left of the button must post before receiving cards. The big blind is the same amount as the small bet.

Big Slick – Ace (A), King (K); also known as Santa Barbara.

Blank – A card on either 4th or 5th Street that is of no value to anyone’s hand.

Blinds – Money used in place of an ante in a flop-type game, such as Hold’em, to initiate action.

Blocky – Six (6), Three (3).

Bluff – The act of betting or raising with the intention of influencing someone else to fold a strong hand.

Board – The community cards in flop games such as Hold’em. In stud games, the cards are dealt face up to each player.

Bully Johnson – Three (3), Five (5).

Bring In ­- An initial bet. In stud games, the player with the lowest card showing on the first round must bring in. (In the event of a tie, the player closest to the dealer’s left brings in.)

Button – Used in Texas Hold’em and similar games to display which player acts first in a hand. The button moves clockwise after every hand.

Call – The action of wagering the same amount after the original bet has been made. For instance if player A bets $10, player B will call $10.

Canine – King (K), Nine (9). Also known as pedigree or mongrel.

Cap – The pot is capped when the last allowable raise has been taken. There is usually no cap during heads up or in tournaments.

Card Set – A group of cards that a player may discard from his hand at once during a round of Big 2.

Check (or Pass) – The action of neither betting nor folding when play comes to you. A player can only check when they are first to act or place a bet.

Check/Raise – Checking, then raising, after a player bets.

Clean Sweep – A special hand in Chinese Poker that automatically wins. Clean Sweep hands include Dragon, 13 Colors, 12 Colors, 6 Pair, 3 Straights, and 3 Flushes.

Community Cards – Cards that all players may use to make up their hands. Board cards in flop games such as Hold’em are community cards. A community card is used in 7-Card Stud when there aren’t enough cards left for all players to receive a 7th card.

Crabs – Pocket Threes (3s).

Darth Vader – The two black fours (‘the dark side of the force’)

Dead Card – A term used in stud games to denote a card that has already been seen.

Dead Man’s Hand – Ace (A), Eight (8). Legend has it that Wild Bill Hickok was holding aces and eights when he was shot in the back by Jack McCall in 1876.

Deuce – A 2 card of any suit.

Dog – A hand unlikely to win the pot.

Door Card – In 7-Card Stud, the first exposed card in a player’s hand.

Dolly Parton – Nine (9), Five (5). From the movie 9 to 5 in which she starred.

Down Cards (or Hole Cards) – A player’s individual cards that are face down.

Dragon – The highest possible hand in Chinese Poker. It contains one card of every rank.

Draw – To receive a card.

Drawing Dead – Drawing to a hand that can’t win, e.g. to a straight when someone has a flush.

Draw Out – To make the winning hand on the last card or draw.

Eubie – Eight (8), Six (6). Supposedly comes from the saying “if you play these you’ll be broke”.

Eyes/Eyes of Texas – Pocket Aces (As).

Family Pot – A pot in which everyone plays and no-one folds.

Flop – The first three board cards in Texas Hold’em. These are dealt face upwards simultaneously and mark the beginning of the second round of betting.

Flush – A hand consisting exclusively of suited cards, e.g. 2 ♦ 4 ♦ 5 ♦ 8 ♦ J ♦.

Fold (or Muck) – To throw away your cards and leave a hand.

Forced Bring-In – A mandatory bet; the player facing a forced bring-in can neither check nor fold. This is usually used in stud games to start the action on the first round of betting by the player with the lowest card showing.

Freeze Out – A stakes structure in which players must buy in for a set amount and may not purchase chips thereafter.

Front Hand – A 3-card hand in Chinese Poker created from the 13 cards a player is dealt. The front hand must be outranked by the middle hand.

Full House – A hand consisting of three cards of one rank and two of another, e.g. 3 ♥ 3 ♦ 3 ♣ 6 ♥ 6 ♣.

Goolsby – Queen (Q), Ten (10).

Gorillas – King (K), King (K). Comes from ‘King Kong’.

Gut Shot (or Inside Straight Draw) – Drawing to a straight that needs one of the middle cards to complete it. For instance if you hold 5 ♣ 6 ♣ 8 ♦ 9 ♥ , any 7 will complete a straight inside.

Heads Up – When only two players remain in a hand.

Heinz – Five (5), Seven (7); so called because of the Heinz slogan ’57 varieties’. Also referred to as pickle man.

Hockey Sticks – Seven (7), Seven (7). So called because the shape of the 7s is similar to that of two hockey sticks.

Implied Odds – The amount you expect to win if you make your hand, divided by what it will cost you to keep playing.

Jack Benny – Three (3), Nine (9). The old vaudeville and early television comedian had a running gag that that was his age.

Jackson Five – Jack (J), Five (5); from the Motown singing group.

Jesse James – Four (4), Five (5). Legend has it that the famous outlaw was shot with a .45.

Joe Bernstein – Six (6), Nine (9). Named after a famous gambler from the 20s and 30s.

Kicker (or Side Card) – The next card in a hand after a pair or 3 of a kind. 9 ♥ 9 ♦ K ♥ 2 ♣ 5 ♣ is a pair of 9s with a king kicker.

Katy – King (K), Ten (10).

King Crab – King (K), Three (3). So called because the 3 resembles a crab.

Kojak – King (K), Jack (J). Named because it sounds like the old TV show.

Kokomo – King (K), Eight (8).

Limits – The amount of money that can be bet in any round of a game, e.g. $3/$6, $5/$10, $10/$20.

Little Pete – Two (2), Three (3).

Little Slick – Ace (A) Queen (Q) or Ace (A), Two (2). Compare with big slick.

Live Card – A term used in stud games to denote a card not yet seen, and therefore possibly still in play.

Loose – A game with a lot of players in most pots.

Lumberman’s Hand – Two (2), Four (4). Comes from the phrase ‘two-by-four’.

Main Pot – The first pot that all players are eligible for.

Marriage – King (K), Queen (Q).

Middle Hand – One of two five-card hands in Chinese Poker created from the thirteen cards a player is dealt. The middle hand must outrank a player’s front hand, and be outranked by the player’s back hand.

Minimum Buy-In – The minimum amount of money that a player can buy into a game for, e.g., in a $10/$20 limit game, the minimum buy-in is $100.

Missed Blind – When a player sits out and misses a blind, in order to receive a hand, he/she must post both blinds or wait a turn to take the big blind.

Montana Banana – Nine (9), Two (2). Some say 92 is the number of the proposition that legalized gambling in Montana. Others believe its origins come from the idea that bananas will grow in Montana before that hand makes money.

Motown – Jack (J), Five (5). See Jackson Five.

Muck – To ‘muck’ your cards is to discard them without showing them, if you are not involved in a showdown at the end of a hand. This allows you to better protect your strategy so that other players will be unable to tell if you were bluffing, or playing a short hand. We have included the option to ‘automuck’ your cards to save you having to select the option each time.

Nuts – The best possible hand. In a Hold’em game where 2 ♣ 4 ♥ 7 ♦ 9 ♣ are visible, the nuts would be three 9s.

On the Come – Drawing to any straight or flush.

Open End/Outside Straight Draw – Drawing to a straight that needs either outside card to complete it, e.g., if you hold 5 ♣ 6 ♦ 7 ♥ 8 ♣, any 4 or 9 completes the straight outside.

Open Game – A game in which anyone can play.

Open Pair – An exposed pair in a stud game.

Open Poker – A game in which some cards are dealt face up.

Open Seat – An empty seat in a game that anyone can sit in and play at.

Overcard – A card higher than any visible card.

Pot Odds – The money in the pot divided by what it will cost you to continue the hand.

Raise – To increase the amount of the original bet, usually by doubling. For instance if player A bets $10, player B will raise the bet to $20.

Rake – The amount of money taken out of the pot by the house, usually on a percentage with a maximum.

Raquel Welch – Three (3), Eight (8); said to be the measurements of the famous actress.

Redraw – A draw to an even better hand when you currently hold the nuts.

River – The 5th board card in Texas Hold’em or the last card in stud.

Rolled Up – When a player’s first three cards in 7-Card Stud are of the same kind.

Round of Betting – The action sequence in which each player can check, bet, raise or fold.

Scare Card – One that looks as though it may make a strong hand.

Set (or Trips) – 3 of a kind.

Showdown – The showing of cards at the end of a hand.

Side Pot – The pot created after a player goes all in. It is possible to have multiple side pots.

Siegfried & Roy – Two Queens.

Small Bet – The first betting round. For example in $10/$20 Hold’em, the small bet is $10.

Small Blind – The money that the first player to the left of the button must post before receiving cards. The small blind is usually half the amount of the Big Blind.

Split Pot – A pot split evenly among players with equal hands.

Straight – A hand consisting of cards of consecutive rank, e.g. 7 ♣ 8 ♣ 9 ♦ 10 ♦ J ♦.

Straight Flush – A hand consisting of suited cards of consecutive rank, e.g. 5 ♦ 6 ♦ 7 ♦ 8 ♦ 9 ♦.

Street – A Street refers to a temporal point in the game. In 7-Card Stud, 3rd Street is the first betting round on the first three cards. 4th Street is the fourth card dealt to each player, and so on. In Texas Hold’em and similar games, 4th Street is the 4th board card in the third round of betting.

Surrender – Discarding one’s hand from play in a game of Chinese Poker and removing oneself from the current betting round. A player who surrenders pays each opponent three units, but eliminates the risk of greater losses.

Table Stakes – The money that players have at the start of a hand, available for that hand. Players may not add money to their stacks, nor bring more to the table while involved in a hand. Players may not be bet out of a hand, nor be forced to fold because they run out of money in the middle of a hand. (See All-in)

Turn – The 4th board card in Texas Hold’em.

Twiggy – Two (2), nine (9); said to be the measurements of the famous model.

Under the Gun – The position of the player who is first to act in a poker game.

Union Oil – Seven (7), six (6); derived from the symbol of the oil company.

Up Cards – A player’s individual cards that are face up in stud games.

Weinberg – Ten (10), Three (3)

Woolworth – Ten (10), Five (5); after the F.W Woolworth retail chain.

Texas Hold ’em
Known simply as Hold ’em, this community-card game is one of the most popular versions of poker in the world.

Omaha is similar to Hold ’em, but two extra hole cards make for bigger hands and some exciting games.

Omaha Hi/Low
Hi/Low Omaha plays the same as regular Omaha, except that there is an additional way to win a share of the pot.

Pot Limit
We offer Pot Limit Hold ’em and Pot Limit Omaha table games and tournaments.  The progressively higher bets make pot limit very exciting and different from a limit game.

No Limit
The rules of No-Limit Hold ’em are very similar to the rules for Limit Hold ’em, but again the main difference are the betting amounts permitted.

7 Card Stud
7 Card Stud is played with a maximum of 8 players per table.  7 Card Stud is a limit game.

32 Card Poker
Manila poker or 32 Card Poker, one of the most popular games in Australian casinos, is a Texas Hold ’em variant called “Manila” (also called “Seven-up” in some places).