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Poker is a card game that is played by two or more players against each other. Their cards are hidden from their opponents, and players must make wagers based on their own cards and what they think their opponents have.
The winner of the pot is the player with the best combination of cards. Online Poker is the internet version of the game, while Video Poker is a different game altogether.
There have been versions of Poker that date back all the way to ancient China and Persia. But it was first officially recorded to have appeared in Europe in the 17th century as a game called Poque, which is how the name Poker was derived.
Poker was brought to the New World by French colonists, and originally played in New Orleans. It quickly spread to the Wild West, and then its popularity boomed during the Civil War period in the 1860s. During this time, many of the current rules and versions of Poker were invented, including the straight, Draw Poker and Stud Poker.
Texas Hold’em, today’s most popular and well-known game, was invented in Robstown, a small Texas town, in the early 1900s. The game became really big when it was featured at a Las Vegas casino called the Golden Nugget in 1967. Two years later, the first Texas Hold’em contest was held by Dune Casino.
One year after that, in 1970, the World Series of Poker was created by the Binion brothers. Today, the World Series of Poker is the biggest Poker tournament in the world. The brothers’ decision to use Texas Hold’em in the Main Event is directly responsible for much of the game’s popularity today.
Not only is Texas Hold’em the most popular game in the World Series of Poker, but with the advent of internet gambling in the late 1900s, Texas Hold’em’s popularity simply skyrocketed.
The following terms refer to general Poker games, and some specifically refer to Texas Hold’em.
Blinds: These are required bets made by the two players to the left of the dealer.
Bluff: This is a classic strategy that includes a player placing and raising bets on a weak hand of his in order to get those with stronger hands to fold and back out of the game.
Buy-in: The value of chips a player is required to buy to be able to play the game. (Different games have different buy-in amounts.)
Community Cards: A Texas Hold’em term. A total of five cards that are dealt face-up and are used by all the players.
Flop: The first round. Three community cards are dealt face-up during the flop.
Flush: A hand of five cards of the same suit.
Hole Cards: These are the two cards dealt to the player.
Pair: A hand of two cards of the same value. For example, a pair of 9s or Jacks.
Pot: This is the total amount of bets placed on any given hand.
Rake: This is the House commission from every pot, and the way the House makes money from Poker games.
River: The fifth community card in Texas Hold’em.
Round of Betting: In a round of betting there are four options for players to choose from: check, call, raise or fold.
Royal Flush: The best hand in Poker; it consists of an Ace-high straight with matching suit. For example, Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 – all of hearts.
Straight: A hand of five consecutive cards of any suit,. For example, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Trips: A hand of three of a kind. For example, three 5s or 3 Queens.
Turn: This is the fourth community card dealt in Texas Hold’em.
Since there are many versions of Poker, we will describe the rules of the most popular one: Texas Hold’em. A game of Texas Hold’em starts with the dealer shuffling a standard 52-card deck. The player to the left of the “dealer” button places a small blind (half of the minimum bet) and the player two spots to the left places a big blind (minimum bet). The dealer then deals two hole cards to each player, beginning with the player to his left.
The first round of betting begins; it starts with the player to the left of the big blind and continues around the table in a clockwise direction. Players have four options: to check (if they have already matched the maximum bet on the table), to call (if they have added money to the pot to match the maximum bet), to raise (if they want to bet more than the maximum bet) or to fold (if they don’t think they can win, they can bow out of that round).
After the first round of betting is completed, the dealer burns the top card on the deck and then lays out the flop (three community cards facing up). A second round of betting ensues, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer button. The dealer then deals the turn (the fourth community card), followed by another round of betting. Then, the last and final community card, the river, is dealt and a final round of betting takes place. Players then reveal their cards and the winner is determined.
The hierarchy of Poker hands is:
Royal Flush: An Ace-high straight Flush (same-suited cards).
Straight Flush: A hand that has five consecutive cards of the same suit (no Ace high).
Four of a kind: A hand at has four cards of the same rank and one other card (for example, four Kings and a 2).
Full House: A hand that has three cards of one rank and two of another rank (for example, three 8s and two Jacks).
Flush: A hand that has five different cards of the same suit.
Straight: A hand that has five sequential cards of various suits (for example: 2 of hearts, 3 of diamonds, 4 of hearts, 5 of spades and 6 of clubs).
Three of a kind: A hand of three cards that have same rank, while two do not.
Two pair: A hand of two pairs of cards that have the same rank, and one other card.
Pair: A hand of two cards that have same rank, and three other cards.
High Card: A winning hand of just the highest card – this is only the winning hand if nobody has a pair or better.
Unlike Baccarat and Blackjack, Texas Hold’em (and most versions of Poker) is a complex game of skill that utilizes math, bluffing and other advanced strategies. For novices, though, the most important thing is to become familiar and confident with basic strategy before moving on to anything more complicated. Basic strategy is actually quite simple – you need to be able to determine whether your hole cards are worth playing or not.
The general rule is that if you are dealt two non-pair cards whose values are each less than 10, you don’t have such great chances at winning the hand. If you are dealt a pair or at least one card worth 10 or more, it might be worth staying in the game and seeing what happens.
To determine whether it’s worth staying in at that point, you need to run a mental cost-risk analysis of how good or bad your cards are and how much you would need to spend in order to stay in the game. If you have lots of money to spend, you might want to stay in the game even if your chances are low. If you don’t have so much money to spend, it’s better to err on the side of caution and fold.
- While you might want to, you shouldn’t play every hand. The laws of probability state that it is impossible to win every hand, so you might as well fold before you lose more money.
- Just because you’ve invested time and money into a game doesn’t mean you have to keep on betting. If you’ve invested money but then see that you don’t have much chance at winning, just stop. Yes, it’s disappointing, but it’s better to lose some money than all your money.
- Control your emotions. The best Poker players are those that don’t get angry, upset or overly confident; they remain cool, calm and collected, while always keeping an eye on the table and their opponents.
- Pay attention to the community cards. This will help you figure out your best hand, and can also help you surmise what your opponents’ hands will be.