As poker has grown into an international game there has been interest in standardizing rules so that players from different locations have a single set of rules to follow. This will avoid disputes caused by interpreting local rules differently and will allow players to move from one tournament to another with confidence that the new set of rules is consistent. A group of professional tournament directors has taken the first steps toward this goal by establishing a set of 81 rules that are freely available on their website.

The 81 official poker rules are designed to reduce the number of rules that can be interpreted incorrectly and to make the decisions that need to be made clear enough to understand. The rules are grouped into sections that cover issues such as the structure of a poker hand, the ranking of hands, the meaning of the word “check,” and whether or not a player may raise a bet while checking.

In addition, the 81 rules specify that any action that a player verbally states that they are going to take is binding. This includes raising, calling, or dropping. If a player is unsure of what their turn is they should ask the dealer to clarify.

While every hand of poker is different, the underlying skill is learning to minimize losses with bad hands and maximize wins with good ones. The best way to develop these instincts is through practice and observation of more experienced players. The majority of the leading online poker sites offer free gaming accounts and play money tables so that players can build up their skills without risking their real money.