Straight Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck with anywhere from 2 to 14 players; the ideal number of players is 7 or 8. Aces are high and there are no high or low ranking suits. Jokers are often used as wild cards.
The object of Poker is to form the cards into “structures.” The structures consist of card combinations of two or more cards of one rank or sequences of cards of the same suit.
Jokers, as wild cards, can also be designated “the bug.” This means that the Joker is wild, but with limitations. It can be used as an Ace or it can be used as a card of any suit or rank needed to make a Flush or a Straight.
In Straight Poker each player is dealt five cards. (Five cards are also dealt in Five-Card Stud and Draw Poker while seven cards are dealt in Seven-Card Stud.) The object of any Poker game is to take the cards you are dealt and make them into the best possible card combination in an effort to beat the other players.
In Straight Poker you must make the best of the cards you are dealt with no chance of improving them. (Draw Poker allows you to exchange cards and therefore make the betting a little more interesting.) Straight Poker is a game of luck and—if you're clever enough—a game that involves a good deal of bluffing, in the hope of fooling the other players into thinking you have a better hand than you actually do.
It's in the Cards
Poker face refers to keeping a straight face no matter what cards you hold in your hand. You don't want to tip off your opponents to either a good hand or a bad hand.
Succeeding at a good bluff can depend on the quality of your poker face. If your hand is a Royal Flush, you don't want your opponents to know that. If your hand is atrocious, but you want to stay in the game, you can try smirking a little throughout the betting process to fool other players into thinking you have a good hand. Bluffing relies heavily on your poker face.
Rank and File
Here are the ranking orders of card combinations:
- Five of a Kind: Four cards of same rank plus a wild card—the highest possible hand. Example: four Kings plus a Joker.
- Straight Flush: Five cards in a sequence in the same suit. This is the best hand you can have without a wild card (the best “natural” hand). Example: 7-8-9-10-J in the same suit. Note: Aces can be high or low, but do not wrap around—meaning you can have A-K-Q-J-10, or A-2-3-4-5, but you cannot have K-A-2-3-4. An Ace high straight (A-K-Q-J-10) is called Royal Flush and it is the highest natural hand you can have.
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of one rank, plus any fifth card of any rank or suit. Example: 4-4-4-4-8.
- Full House: Three of a Kind and a Pair. Example: Q-Q-Q-3-3. If there are two Full Houses on the table, you have to look at the cards as three of a kind. So if you have Q-Q-Q-3-3 and your opponent has J-J-J-2-2, your hand wins because your Three of a Kind (the three Queens) is higher than you opponent's Three of a Kind (the three Jacks). If you both have three Queens, you have to look at the Pairs to determine the winner. In the example I've given, if your hands both had three Queens, you would still win because a pair of 3s is higher than a pair of 2s.
- Flush: All cards of the same suit. Example: K-A-7-J-2 of one suit. In the case of a tie, you would have to use the rule for High Card to determine the winner.
- Straight: Five cards in ranking order, but not of the same suit. Example: 2-3-4-5-6 of different suits. Aces can be high or low, but cannot wrap around (K-A-2-3-4). In a tie, the Straight with the highest cards wins. If the cards are the same, you would split the winnings.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of equal rank plus any other two cards of different ranks. Example: Q-Q-Q-4-5. (If the last two cards were the same, it would count as a Full House.) In a tie, the highest ranking Three of a Kind wins. So if you have Q-Q-Q-4-5 and your opponent has J-J-J-2-3, you win. If the cards are of equal value (this would only apply in wild card situations), use the High Card rules to determine the winner.
- Two Pair: Two pairs of equal rank plus any fifth card. Example: 2-2-4-4-6. In a tie situation, the highest ranking pairs win. If the cards have the same value, use the High Card rule to determine the winner.
- One Pair: Two cards of the same rank plus any other three cards that do not combine with the other two to form any other hands listed here. Example: Q-Q-7-6-4 (you would refer to this hand as a “Pair of Queens”).
- High Card (also called “No Pair”): This is the lowest ranking hand, but is used as a tie-breaker. It consists of five cards that do not make up any particular combination of cards listed here.
The cards are shuffled by any player and cut by the player to the shuffler's right. The person who shuffles the cards then deals the cards face-up (starting with the person on his or her left). This preliminary dealer keeps dealing until a Jack turns up. The person who receives the Jack becomes the first game dealer. The cards are then reshuffled—by any player—and should be shuffled at least three times. The player on the dealer's right cuts the cards. The cards are then dealt, face-down, one at a time to each player, starting on the dealer's left. Each player is dealt five cards.