Poker Rules, Hand Combinations and Variants


Poker is one of the most popular and most complicated card games around. Moreover, just knowing the rules isn’t enough to win; you also need to have some skill. This is why several variants of poker are officially recognised as sports across the globe. Don’t worry, however, because even if you’re new to poker, you can still learn the basic rules and hands. So, you’ll be placing your first bets and getting winning hands in no time!

Poker rules (Casino Hold’em)

The goal of the game is to construct the strongest possible hand and beat the dealer.

To start the game, you have to place an Ante bet. Then, the dealer deals two cards for you, two cards for themselves and three face-up cards that can be used by all players on the table. Now is the time to evaluate your cards and start thinking about which hands you can make.

Next, you have to decide whether you want to continue playing or cut your losses and resign from this hand (Fold). If you choose to play, your bet is automatically doubled and two more cards are dealt (also known as the turn and the river). In some variations of Casino Hold’em poker, you have to double your bet once again to see the river card. If you fold at this point, you’ll lose your ante bet.

Hands in poker

It’s important to remember not only the hands themselves, but also their ranking. Here’s a list of poker hands, ranked from best to worst:

poker hand ranking
Hands in poker

Royal Flush—the five highest cards in the same suit (ace, king, queen, jack and ten).

Straight Flush—any five suited cards in numerical order.

Four of a Kind—four cards of the same value.

Full House—three cards of the same value and pair of cards with a different matching value (for example, 3 sixes and 2 kings).

Flush—five cards of the same suit.

Straight—five cards in numerical order but from any combination of suits.

Three of a Kind—three cards of the same value.

Two Pairs—two pairs of cards (for example, 2 queens and 2 nines).

Pair—two cards of the same value.

High Card—a hand that does not fall into any other category; if both players have this hand, the highest card wins.

Fun fact: A Royal Flush is extremely rare, and the probability of one featuring is 650,000 to 1!

Within each category, the higher value wins if both hands fall in the same group.

For example, with Four of a Kind, four kings will beat four sevens. In a Straight, 6,7,8,9,10 will beat 4,5,6,7,8.

In the case of two Flushes, the winning hand is ranked by the highest card held in that suit. If that is the same, then by the second card etc.

Similarly, with a High Card, they are ranked by the highest card. If that is the same, then by the second card etc.

When there are Two Pairs, it is the highest ranked pair which will win. For example, two Kings and two threes will beat two Queens and two Jacks. If the highest ranked pair is the same, then the value of the second pair will be considered.

Understanding ‘good’ hands

If you don’t have much poker experience yet, it will be hard to know whether or not you’ve got a good hand. However, with a little time and practice, you’ll get the hang of evaluating your hand. For now, you can use this list as a rough guide to good hands:

Pocket aces or pocket kings

Your chances of getting this hand is only 2%, but this combination is extremely strong. You should definitely play if you get this hand, as your chances of winning are very high.

Pocket cards are the first two cards that you are dealt.

Pocket queens and jacks

If you get this hand, you should play. The probability of the dealer having a better hand is small.

Ace and king

If the cards are suited, you have a great opportunity to build a strong hand. A hand containing an unsuited ace and king is not quite as strong, but continuing the game is probably still a good option.


A hand that includes any suited combination of king and queen, jack and queen, or suited pairs of tens or nines, will be quite a strong hand. However, bear in mind that the dealer might have good cards too.

The most well-known book on this subject is The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky.

Poker variants

Casino Hold’em is a popular variant of poker, both in casinos and online casinos. The rules we have just looked at come from this variant.

In the Marathonbet Live Casino, you can find several different types of poker tables from different providers: Casino Hold’em, 2 Hand Casino Hold’em, Ultimate Texas Hold’em by Evolution; Casino Hold’em by Ezugi.

Omaha poker is a game very similar to Casino Hold’em poker. The only difference is in the rules surrounding the initial cards: players get four cards each, but can only use two of them. As with the variant we looked at, there are five community cards, three of which must be used to construct a hand.

Hi-Lo is a variation of Omaha poker, but in this game the pot is divided between the player with the best hand and the player with the worst hand.

‘Lo’ refers to the lowest scoring hand.

In cases when there’s no lowest scoring hand, (five cards below 8), the player with the best hand gets the whole pot.

Stud is very different from other poker variants. There’s no flop, turn or river, and each player gets dealt three cards. One card is dealt face up, and the holder of the worst card must post a bring-in bet (an additional bet of the same value as the initial bet or half of it).

If two or more of the worst cards are the same, the player with the lowest ranked suit will pay the bring-in bet. The ranking, in order, is: spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. The bring-in bet is then followed by betting rounds, with the community cards (except for the last one) being dealt face up.

Badugi is a poker variant that originated in Korea. In this game, you have to combine four cards of different ranks and suits to end up with the lowest four-card hand. The best hand in Badugi is A-2-3-4 containing four different suits. The dealer deals four cards face down, then three betting rounds take place. The lowest four-card Badugi wins the pot. If there are no four-card Badugis, the best three-card hand wins the pot, and so on.

In Chinese poker, each player gets dealt 13 cards. The cards are placed on the table in three rows, with three, five and five cards in each respective row. The objective is to build a combination of poker hands ranging from low to high, where the back row is the highest.

Teen Patti is a poker variant from India. The dealer deals only three cards, but the goal is the same as in classic poker: to construct the best hand. However, bear in mind that a three-card straight in Teen Patti is worth more than a three-card flush, since it’s much harder to get.

The Marathonbet Live Casino offers two Teen Patti tables from different providers: Teen Patti by Evolution and Bet On Teen Patti by Ezugi.

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Poker is a complicated but incredibly exciting game that gives you the chance to win big. So, now you know the basics, why not use what you’ve learned and place your first bet? Sign up to the Marathonbet website and make a deposit to start playing poker and getting some winning hands in the Marathonbet Live Casino.