Poker has become a popular activity both in casinos and online. But for the novice exploring the world of poker can seem a bit overwhelming. This guide will offer you some of the basics of the game to get you started in your poker adventure.
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Poker isn’t a single card game but a family of card games each with similar betting rules and usually the same hand rankings. Different rules but the same basic set of hand rankings and the feature of betting based on those hands. A wide variety of poker games are available to play, both online and in casinos.
Five Card Draw Games: Each player receives five cards and then may replace any number of those cards with another draw from the deck. They then play the cards they hold in their hand.
Five Card Stud Games: Players are dealt cards in a series of betting rounds with the best hands determined after each betting player has received five cards.
Seven Card Stud Games: Players are dealt cards in a series of betting rounds and must make the best hand from five of seven cards.
Community Cards Games: This category includes the popular Texas Hold’em. In these games, the players try to make the best hand using cards dealt to them and a series of community cards that everyone can play.
Match Pot Games: Players create a hand of card based on game rules then much either hold or drop their hand. If they hold and lose the showdown, they must match the pot.
Three Strikes Games: Players start with stacks of chips and must place a stack in the pot for each losing hand. The winner is the last player with a stack left.
To play poker, you’ll need to learn the basic hand rankings – which hands are good and which are bad – because these determine the winner.
High card: A player has the highest card in a game where no one has cards to make a better hand.
Pair: A player has two cards of the same rank, say two tens. If more than one player holds a pair, the highest rank pair wins. So kings when over tens.
Two Pair: two sets of cards having the same rank, such as two eights and two tens.
Three of a Kind: holding three cards of the same rank, such as three jacks.
Straight: Any five cards in sequence, such as ten, jack, queen, king, ace.
Flush: Five cards in the same suit, so all hearts, all spades, all diamonds or all clubs.
Full House: Three of a kind, plus a pair, such as three jack and two tens.
Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank, such as four aces.
Straight Flush: Five cards in sequence and all of the same suit.
Royal: The best possible poker hand. The five cards in sequence will be ten, jack, queen, king and the ace, and these will all be of the same suit.
Betting is the heart of poker. Games have variations on the betting structure and limits. Many games start with an ante, which is usually a small bet placed before receiving any cards. Then depending on the game, players may check (pass without betting), bet, call, raise or fold (lay down their cards and lose their money). When the betting ends, those players who have not folded compare cards to see who wins. If a single player is left who hasn’t folded, he doesn’t need to show his hand. So players with bad or low hands can bluff other players out of the game.