OBJECTIVE: The objective of poker is to win all the money in the pot, which consists of bets made by players during the hand.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-8 players
NUMBER OF CARDS: 52-card decks
RANK OF CARDS: A,K,Q,J,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2
TYPE OF GAME: Casino
INTRODUCTION TO POKER
Poker is foundationally a game of a chance. The addition of betting to the game added new dimensions of skill and psychology which allows players to strategize within a game that is largely based on random chance. The name poker is thought to be an English derivative from the Irish “Poca” (pocket) or French “Poque,” although these games may not be the original ancestors of Poker. Since the conception of poker, there have been numerous variations created of the classic game. Poker is a family of card games, so the information below is an outline of principles that are applied to several forms of poker.
Poker games use standard 52 card decks, however, players may choose to play variants which include Jokers (as wild cards). The cards are ranked in poker, from high to low: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. In some poker games, aces are the lowest card, not the high card. In a deck of cards, there are four suits: spades, diamonds, hearts, and clubs. In a standard poker game, the suits are not ranked. However, “hands” are ranked. Your hand is the five cards you hold at the time of showdown, which happens after all the betting is finished and players show their cards to determine who wins the pot. Typically, the person with the highest ranking hand wins, although in Lowball games low hand wins. In the event of a tie, the pot is split.
To determine the highest ranking hand, follow this guide: Poker Hand Rankings
Starting to the dealer’s left, cards are dealt clockwise around the table, one at a time.
In Stud poker, there is a round of betting after each card is dealt. The first card dealt is face-down, this is the hole card. There may be an ante or bring in bet players must pay first, and then normal betting ensues. Players bet strategically as their hand grows based on the strength of their cards and their opponent’s cards. The player who bets the most wins if everyone else folds. At the showdown, however, the player left with the highest hand wins the pot.
In Draw poker, five cards are all dealt at once, two of which are dealt face-down.These are hole cards. After the deal, a round of betting ensues. Betting continues until all players are “square” with the pot, meaning if a player raises during betting, you must at least call (pay the pot the new bet amount) or choose to raise the bet amount (forcing other players to put more money in the pot). If you do not want to match the new bet, you may choose to fold and throw in your hand. After the first round of betting players may discard up to three unwanted cards for new cards. This ushers in a new round of betting. After the pot is square, players reveal their cards in the showdown and the player with the highest hand wins the pot.
A poker game does not go without betting. In many poker games, you must pay an ‘ante’ in order to be dealt cards. Following the ante, bring in bets and all following bets are put in the pot in the middle of the table. During gameplay in poker, when it is your turn to bet you have three options:
- Call. You may call by betting the amount wagered by a previous player. For example, if you bet 5 cents and another player raises the bet amount to a dime (raises 5 cents), you may call on your turn by paying the pot 5 cents, thus matching the 10 cent bet amount.
- Raise. You may raise by first betting the amount equal to the current wager and then bet more. This increases the wager or bet amount on the hand which other players must match if they wish to remain in the game.
- Fold. You may fold by laying down your cards and not betting. You do not have to put money in the pot but you do sit out on that hand. You forfeit any money wagered and have no opportunity to win the pot.
Betting rounds continue until all players have called, folded, or raised. If a player raises, once the raise has been called by all remaining players, and there was no other raise, the betting round ends.
Poker has numerous variations which are all loosely based on the same structure of the play. They also generally use the same ranking systems for hands. In addition to Stud and draw poker, there are two other main families of variants.
- STRAIGHT. Players receive a full hand and there is one round of betting. This is the oldest form of poker (with stud poker being the second oldest). The origin of the game is from Primero, a game that eventually evolved into three card brag.
- COMMUNITY CARD POKER. Community card poker is a variant of stud poker, often it is referred to as flop poker. Players receive an incomplete deck of face-down cards and a certain number of face-up “community cards” are dealt to the table. The community cards may be used by any player to complete their five-card hand. The popular Texas Hold Em’ and Omaha poker are both variants of poker in this family.