In western society, there’s an entire cultural perception around the game of poker - largely thanks to iconic representations of the game in films like Casino Royale and Oceans 11. But what exactly is the game of poker? What are the rules? And how do you play to win?

Global Appeal

Poker is one of the most vibrant, recognisable and enduring games in recorded history. Given its persevering presence throughout several generations and across multiple regions, tracing the game’s exact origins can be challenging. One thing, however, is for certain. Wherever some variation of the game has appeared, it’s gripped the population wholeheartedly.

Part of Poker’s global appeal lies in the fact that no matter what part of the world you’re playing, the language is universal. This is a significant factor in the success of online and mobile poker sites, Pokerist included. A single table in one of these sites can see players from far-reaching regions and a sprawling range of backgrounds. Yet, despite their lives being so contrasting, they’re connected through their common pastime. With every bet, raise and call, players reveal something about themselves. Then, throughout the highs and lows of the game, meaningful and long-lasting connections form. While previously this allowed far-from-home travellers to form instant connections with unknown locals, in today's modern online landscape the same interaction is facilitated with a few easy keystrokes or taps on a smartphone. Thanks to the universal connectivity of poker, and its adaptability in the online space, like-minded enthusiasts find each other every day.

Playing The Game

Still, the question begs, how do you join the game? The aim of the game is to break the bank!. There are two ways to do this successfully and take home that all too lucrative pot. Firstly, a player can assemble a poker hand that’s stronger than their opponents’. Alternatively, the player can pretend they have a strong hand and force their opponents to back down and check out of the game. 

A final poker hand always consists of five cards with winning hand combinations being sorted into several ranking categories. Any hand in one category on the list beats any hand in a category below it. For example, any straight flush beats any four of a kind; any flush beats any straight. 

For more detailed information on hand rankings, please click here.

The game begins even before the fateful cards are dealt. This is when the player sitting to the left of the Button is forced to make a bet called the small blind. The next player sitting to the left of the small blind is also forced to make a bet called the big blind. It’s important to note that the amount of big blind is twice the amount of the small blind. If a player joins a table in any position other than the big blind, that player will be forced to post the amount of the big blind for their first hand (ante). A player will only post an ante once. Following this, they will merely have to post the big and small blinds as the Dealer Button moves into position.


When you get your chance to make a move in the game, you’ll be carrying out one of the following acts. If another player has laid a bet, you can match their bet by calling it. This means that you’ll be adding the same amount as they have to the pot. If there have been no bets thus far, you can simply check. This means you’re still in the game but haven’t upped the stakes in terms of betting. Lastly, you can choose to raise another player’s bet. Here, you would have to make at least twice the size of the last player’s bet. What’s more, to stay in the game, the following players will now have to call or re-raise your bet. Otherwise, they’ll be forced to fold their hand and remove themselves from the current round of the game.

To learn more about the best ways to bet in poker, check out our betting blog here.

Variations Of The Game

However, poker can’t just be confined to one definition or a single set of rules. In fact, there are no less than three main classifications of poker: draw poker, stud poker, and community card poker. Pretty much every single variant of the game will fall into one of these categories. While Texas hold’em is arguably the most popular version of poker, the game has branched off to include endless forms. For instance, Texas hold’em is also the most popular game in KamaGames’ flagship app, Pokerist. Yet, throughout the years we’ve grown our offering to include other titles such as Omaha, Set and Split Bet poker. These games were brought to fruition because of their deft ability to entertain and further challenge the avid poker player. 

Omaha Poker

Like most poker games, the basics of Omaha poker are similar to Texas hold 'em - meaning that if you know how to play one, you are in a good position to play the other. 

  • Firstly, unlike in Texas hold 'em, every player is dealt four cards face down.
  • Then, the five community cards are dealt. 
  • Players must then choose only two of their four cards and are required to use both of them to make the best hand possible.
  • You must use two of your hole cards when forming your best possible hand. If all hearts are showing on the board, and you are holding an ace of hearts and a king of diamonds, you would have a flush in Texas hold'em. When playing Omaha, you would simply be holding an ace-high hand, since both cards must be used.

Set Poker

You will often hear set poker referred to as 3 card poker as it kicks off with the player being dealt three cards. What makes set poker interesting is that players can make parallel bets on either side of the main deal with both holding winning combinations. As always, the aim here is to make the best hand possible. In this case, however, it’s the best possible hand with only three cards. It’s important to note that you’re playing against the dealer and not the other players in set poker.

  • Firstly, you have to place the initial wager or a pair plus wager. The pair plus is based on the three cards in your hand. If you're dealt a pair or better in your three cards, you win the Pair Plus bonus wager.
  • Following this, three face-down cards are dealt to both player and dealer.
  • After looking at your hand, you’ll have to decide whether you want to bet. This bet must be equal to the amount of the ante. 
  • If you’re dealt a bad hand (in theory one below Queen, six and four) their time during this hand is over and the dealer will collect their ante wager and pair plus wager.
  • If you decide to play your hand, your cards are turned over to reveal whether you have a stronger hand than the dealer.

Now, should the dealer hold a Jack-high or less, the player retrieves their wager. Should the dealer hold a Queen-high or higher, the play wager and the ante are paid out at 1 to 1 if the player has a better hand than the dealer. If the dealer holds a better hand than the player, however, they collect both ante and play wagers. In contrast, the pair plus is determined solely by what hand the player hold. If you want to make yourself more familiar with the gameplay involved in set poker, check our KamaGames’ free-to-play version here.

Split Bet Poker

Split bet poker is played with three player cards and two community cards. What makes this variation particularly unique is the fact that, when the player's cards are revealed, they can take back one-third of their bet if they have a weak hand. The rules of the game are as follows:

  • Firstly, the player must make a bet called an ante. The size of the ante bet determines the size of bets one and two. If an ante bet has been made, the player can make two side bets - lucky 3 and lucky 6.
  • Once all bets have been placed, all players are dealt three cards. Following this, two community cards are dealt. An additional third card will be dealt if at least one lucky 6 bet has been made. 
  • After receiving the cards, the player must decide whether they should partially take back (split) or leave bet 1. The dealer then reveals one of the community cards. After that, the player must decide whether they should partially take back (split) or leave (bet) bet 2. 
  • During the final stage of the game, the dealer reveals the second community card. Each player receives a payout for the ante bet, along with bets 1 and 2 if they haven't been split. The size of the payout is determined by the highest possible hand consisting of the three cards dealt to the player and the two community cards. 

Taking The Game Online

Given the cultural impact of poker in analogue form, it’s no surprise that it's transitioned successfully into the online world. This ease of transition from analogue to digital online games makes the development of card games relatively easy in comparison to AAA titles. What’s more, the addition of genuine players only further enriches the gaming experience for the overall community by providing real-world interaction between players. 

With each year that passes, our smartphones offer further opportunities for entertainment. They’re getting faster and smarter and gamers are beginning to navigate toward them in their droves, leading to mobile overtaking PC and consoles in the gaming sector in 2018. Casual games such as online poker are uniquely suited to mobile gaming for several reasons, leading to this surge in popularity. 

Not only does the visual design of card games work seamlessly with the mobile screen but these games can be as complex or simple as a player would like, allowing them to dip in and out of the game for as long as it suits their schedule. In addition, with smartphones becoming the norm in gaming, social casino games (like our very own Pokerist) are now typically built on a freemium model, meaning there’s no cost involved in the downloading of the game. This appeals greatly to new players who, unsure of whether or not they will enjoy casino games, don’t want to make a monetary commitment upfront. 

As the online world is largely considered a haven of reinvention, it should be noted that social casino games are leaders in regular rejuvenation and innovation. This has contributed greatly to the progression of online poker as a game and to its popularity among players of all skill levels. Social casino operators like KamaGames keep our players engaged by regularly devising new Party modes and tournaments within our Pokerist app. We build our Party modes with the core elements of poker as a foundation, followed by the layering of unique gaming mechanics and intriguing new twists. This design provides continuous challenges for players of all skill levels and makes for some exciting gameplay opportunities. You can play any of our games, tournaments and Party modes by downloading our free Pokerist app today!