Poker is one of the most popular card games today, and is played all over the world. Poker is about luck, but it also about skill. It can initially seem a little confusing, but once you know how to play, it can be a lot of fun. Lots of different variations of poker are played, ‘Texas hold ’em’ being the most famous, but they all have some basic similarities.
The basic concepts of poker are:
The Pack and Wild Cards
- A standard 52-card is used.
- One or two jokers can be used to make it more interesting.
- Sometimes certain cards from the deck are declared wild. For example deuces or the two one-eyed jacks (because their faces are drawn in profile, only one eye is visible).
Number of Players and Preparation
- It is generally played by two to seven players.
- In some variations there are more than seven players.
- Before starting a game, the players must decide on topics like the type of Poker to be played, the initial bet amount, the minimum and maximum amount allowed for a bet, the number of times a bet can be raised in a round, a minimum buy-in amount and the total number of rounds.
Order of Hands/Scoring
- In poker, each hand contains five cards. The following chart shows how the various combinations of cards in a hand are ranked, in order of highest to lowest.
- If two hands are of the same order, ranking is determined by the rank of the individual cards.
- Individual cards are ranked from high to low in following order –
- A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2
- Sometimes the Ace is used as a low card, and ranks below the 2.
- All suits are considered equal when comparing hands.
- If two players have a hands that are equal in ranking, they tie and split the pot.
The Game Outline
- Every player is dealt two cards face down (called hole cards or pocket cards). The deal and the play are both clockwise.
- Five more cards (called community cards) are dealt face up in the center of the table.
- The community cards can be dealt all at once, or in three stages (first three, then one and one), depending on the kind of poker. In the latter, a round of betting takes place between each.
- Combining your two hole cards with the community cards in the center, you have to make up the best five card hand you can.
- Poker is generally played with money. Mostly chips, that can later be exchanged for money are used.
- To win the game, either of the following two situations must occur –
- You have the best five-card hand at the showdown.
- You are last active player left (all the other players have folded).
The betting in Poker usually proceeds as follows:
- Initial bet – Sometimes an initial bet is placed before the cards have been dealt. Players put the required chips in the central area called pot or pool.
- Next the cards are dealt to the players.
- After looking at the cards, the players can increase their bets or fold.
- Fold means to discard your cards and give up chips you may have contributed to the pot.
- All active players (those that do not fold) have to place their bet equal to or higher than the raise.
- When all active players have contributed equal amounts to the pot, that betting round ends.
- If in a betting round, no one has bet so far and the amount contributed by each player is equal, you can either check or bet –
- Check – You can say check if you don’t want to contribute any more at the moment but want to remain an active player. You can then take part in future betting.
- Bet – You can bet some more. It must be within the minimum and maximum limits set.
- If there has been a bet in the betting round, you can –
- Call – To remain active, you can match the latest bet. Your contribution must be equal to that of whoever bet or raised last.
- Raise – You can raise the bet. It must be within the minimum and maximum set limits.
- Fold – You can drop out of the hand.
- At the end of each round, depending on the type of Poker being played, further cards might be dealt or the players might have the opportunity to exchange their cards.
- This is how each betting round continues.
- At the end of the final round, there is a showdown wherein each active player has to show his/her cards.
- The player with the best hand wins the pot.
- If at any point only one active player is left, he/she automatically wins and takes the pot without having to show any cards.
- This last point is what makes the game very interesting. If you can convince the other players that you have better cards and increase the bet, they might think they will lose more money and fold. And then you would win regardless of whether your cards were better than the other players’ or worse. Understanding these strategies and learning to bluff is a key part of Poker.
- However, it is often better to have patience and wait for the good cards.
Understanding the basics is important to getting started, but the best way to learn Poker is to play and practice. Learning different strategies and playing the various types of Poker is fun. So go ahead and perfect that Poker face.