Poker Rules

When playing poker online there are certain basic rules that still apply. Lets run through them. Then we will discuss legislation and if you can even play poker online in the USA.

Basic Poker rules

Learning to how to play basic poker is not nearly as hard as many people imagine. There are generally two types: Stud Poker and Draw Poker. The rules for these games are almost identical and both are presented here.

In Stud Poker, each player is dealt five cards (or seven for some games). Players then assess the relative strength of their hands and wager chips accordingly. The player who bids the most chips wins unless someone else is willing to match the player’s bet. In that scenario, the two (or more) players remaining will show their cards. The best hand wins all the chips.

In Draw Poker, each player is dealt five cards, and a round of betting ensues. The remaining players then may attempt to improve their hands by trading as many as three cards for a new three from the deck. If a player has an Ace, he may trade all four of his other cards if he so desires.

The rounds of betting work like this: Starting to the left of the dealer, each player has four options:

  1. Raise — A player who thinks he has a good hand (or who wants the other players to think he has a good hand) may increase the wager required to continue playing.
  2. Fold — A player who thinks his hand is not good enough to win and who does not want to wager the increased amount may lay down his cards. He cannot win the hand, but he also will not lose any more chips.
  3. Call — Once a player has raised the stakes, each player must decide whether to raise the stakes again, to give in and fold his hand, or to call, which means to equal the amount wagered by the player who raised.
  4. Check — If no one has increased the wager required to continue, a player may stand pat by checking, or passing on his option to bet.

While there are many varieties of poker games, the same basic rules apply to almost all of them. Typically, five or seven cards are dealt to each player. Players attempt to form the best five-card poker hand possible (see below). For every poker game, the same hierarchy of hands exists, and the better hands are rarer and more difficult to achieve than the lesser hands.

Legislation for Online Poker in USA

For all our readers who have an interest in playing poker online we thought we would try and share with you some information regarding legislation. There is a significant amount of confusion about whether online poker in the US is legal or not. This confusion has not been helped by some sites referring to offshore poker sites as “illegal”, when in fact they are regulated and licensed – only not by authorities in the USA.

This article aims to clear up the myths about online poker legislation in the United States and provide an accurate view of the current rules and regulations. As some of these rules and regulations vary according to individual jurisdictions, we have also included a series of state-by-state guides which we aim to keep updated as changes occur.

There is no federal law that prohibits players from playing poker for real money online in the US. Many people believe that the Wire Act of 1961 or the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) made it illegal to play poker online in the US, but that is inaccurate.

In September 2011, the US Department of Justice released a formal legal opinion that the Wire Act only related to sports betting (which is also banned by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992), while UIGEA made certain methods of payment processing illegal.

However, each state has its own set of laws when it comes to gambling. This makes it very difficult for individuals to figure out if they are breaking the law by playing poker online. There has also been one significant event (“Black Friday”) that sculpted the current landscape for online poker in the United States.