Poker Night House Rules

I host a poker night for local friends every now and again, and these are the house rules.  For the rules to common poker games see the Games page.

Conduct & Etiquette

  • Above all, we’re playing for fun.  If something isn’t fun, the House reserves the right to change it.  Don’t do something you know won’t be fun unless it is required by the game–someone does have to lose and that’s not fun, sorry!
  • The House has 2 tables each capable of accommodating up to 8 players.  Before the game, I will call for your final RSVP.  When 16 have RSVP’d they will attend, the game is full.  You can choose to show up anyway in hopes someone that RSVP’s is a no show, but you may not have a seat.
  • Try not to be late, but if you are and there are seats open, you can join late.
  • No smoking indoors, you’re welcome to smoke on the deck.
  • Phones:  Please don’t use your phone during a hand.  If you must take a call or text, fold your hand, get up from the table, and you may rejoin on the next hand.
  • Never touch another player’s cards or chips.  Keep your cards and chips clearly visible at all times.
  • Don’t say or do anything that influences a hand you’re no longer playing.
  • Drinks:  The House promises to have beer, wine, and soft drinks.  You’re welcome and encouraged to contribute any of the above, especially if you have a personal favorite.
  • Snacks:  The House will provide some snacks but you can make it more fun if you bring something.  Try not to bring anything that’s too messy.  Ribs and poker are probably not a good match, LOL!


  • Dealership rotates clockwise around the table.  Draw and high card is the first dealer.
  • There are 2 decks, one is shuffled and in the dealer’s hands.  The other goes to the next dealer (person in clockwise order from the dealer) who is expected to have it shuffled by the time they’re ready to deal.
  • The Dealer shall offer the deck to cut before dealing.
  • The Dealer chooses the game–it’s Dealer’s Choice.  If anyone wants to know the rules, the Dealer should explain them before dealing.  Players can ask the Dealer questions during play as well.
  • After naming the game and explaining the rules if anyone wants to know, the Dealer may deal.
  • Always deal one card at a time to each person – that is, don’t deal two cards in a row to one person, then two in a row to the next, etc. This is to negate the effects of grouping in the deck: For example, people tend to place pairs together in their hands, and when the cards are gathered back up, those pairs can tend to stick together…


  • Chips are worth 1/5 their face value.
  • Buy Whatever – In this system there is not a set buy-in amount. Players can buy any amount of chips they wish at any time, including in the middle of a hand. However, there is no “all-in” protection; if someone raises you more than the amount of chips you have left, you either have to buy more chips or fold. (This is balanced out by a “raise limit,” so things don’t get out of control!)
  • You can buy-in a total of $200 in chips per poker night.  Multiple buy-ins are fine up to the total of $200 bought across all buy-ins for the night.  A buy-in must be a multiple of $5.
  • Basic ante is $0.25 (a $1 chip at the 1/5 face value) for a game.
  • Raise Limit – This is how we keep things from getting out of control! The maximum amount any player can raise the previous bet is, five dollars. For example, player A bets 50 cents, player B raises the max $5.00 to a total of $5.50. Player C can raise that $5.00 to a total of $10.50. This system is balanced because it allows players to keep raising each other if they want; however, a player can’t be bullied with too much money because the bet can’t get that far ahead if it can only move in $5 increments.  A player can be forced out if they’ve bought all the chips they’re allowed ($200 limit) and near the end of their bankroll.  Lastly, there is a 3 raise limit.  Each player can only raise 3 times.


Here’s the order of hands:

  • High Card – If you have nothing else, the highest card wins.  If the highest card is a tie, the second-highest in each hand breaks the tie, and so on.

  • Pair – Two cards of the same value.

  • Two Pair – Two pairs.  When two two-pairs compete, the highest pair wins;  if the highest pairs are identical, the second pair breaks the tie.  If both pairs are identical, the fifth card breaks the tie.

  • Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same value.

  • Straight – Five cards in a row.  Note that the ace can be either high or low, but not both – this means there are no “wraparound straights.”  For example, A-2-3-4-5 is valid, as is 10-J-Q-K-A, but not Q-K-A-2-3.

  • Flush – Five cards of the same suit.  Ties are broken by the high card, then the second highest card, etc.

  • Full House – A pair and a three of a kind.  Ties are broken by the highest three-of-a-kind.

  • Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same value.

  • Straight Flush – Five cards of the same suit, in order.  As with straights, there are no wraparounds allowed.  Note:  A “Royal Flush” is just a variation of a Straight Flush, which is the highest available straight flush:  10-J-Q-K-A of a single suit.

  • Five of a Kind – Five cards of the same value.  Of course, this hand is only possible in games with wild cards. 

Some important details:

  • A Poker Hand is ONLY FIVE CARDS – If you’re playing a game where the player has seven cards, for example, the player can only play five cards.  Sixth cards can’t be used as tie-breakers, for example, and there is no such hand as “three pair.”

  • Suits DON’T Break Ties – All suits are of equal value.  If two five-card hands are identical, they tie, rather than being decided by which suit is higher.  This is called a “push” – the money is simply split between the tying hands.

  • The Cards Talk – If a player lays down his cards, calling his hand a two pair, when it’s actually four of a kind, the cards talk; that is, the player gets credit for the hand that is actually there, not just for what he says is there.  This can get complicated in games with many wild cards, and especially for new players; this protects them from their own ignorance!

  • Calling and Showing – The person whose final bet is matched at the end of the hand has been “called” – this person must be the first to show their cards.  Other players may choose to not show their cards if they know they’ve lost.

  • Folding and Showing – If all other players fold, the remaining player wins the hand; however, in this case the winner does not have to show his cards!  This protects his (successful?) potential bluff.  In some cases, players will pay the last bit of money “just to see if he had it,” knowing that they will most likely lose anyway.


Recently updated on March 9th, 2023 at 03:50 pm