Poker is a gambling game that involves skill and psychology as well as a bit of luck. It has been around for almost two hundred years and in that time poker has become one of the most popular card games in the world and can be found at most online casinos. Over the past twenty years with poker tournaments being televised millions of people have discovered the game and they play in poker rooms, in land based casinos and in online casinos. Many people are eager or at least curious to try playing poker but are scared by the misconception that poker rooms are full of cardsharps or that poker is a game of chance. Neither of these is true. Most poker rooms at online casinos are full of people just like you and me who play poker for fun and relaxation but of course don’t forget, we also like to win.
Poker is a game played against the other players using skill, not a game played against the house dependent only upon you drawing good cards. Good cards help but if you learn to play reasonably well, they aren’t crucial to winning at poker. Poker is a game of strategy and just like anything else can be learned with a little time and a little effort.
If you learn the right strategies, know when to fold your hand and most importantly KEEP YOUR COOL, you will start to see stacks of chips in front of you at the table and people asking how you do it.
First things first, you must learn the rules…
Poker, regardless of where it is played usually uses a standard deck of 52 cards although some games will add jokers as wild cards or use several decks. The cards are ranked from 2 through 10 then Jack, Queen King, Ace and sometimes the Ace can be used as a 1 card. There are four suits, which are the symbols on the cards. These are Clubs, Spades, Hearts and Diamonds. All suits are equal and the point of the game is to get the highest ranking set of 5 cards called a hand.
Now that you know what the cards you’ll be using are you must learn the language of Poker betting. In most all Poker games before the hand starts every player must ‘Ante Up’. That means each player must put a minimum bet into the pot and after the hand starts every bet made goes into the pot. When the betting comes around to you there are several options ;
1.Raise. To raise means that when the bet comes around to you you increase your bet over the previous players bet to raise the stakes for the hand.
2. Check. If there was no raise by the player before you you can ‘Check the Bet’ which means you will not raise but you will stay in the game.
3.Call. This means that you will match the previous bet mad by the player before you but will not ‘Raise’ or increase the bet.
4.Fold. To fold means that you will not place any additional bet above the ante and you will withdraw from the hand.
Betting and raising will continue until everybody calls or folds and then all the players show their cards and a winner is determined.
The hands are ranked the same in all forms of Poker and in order from lowest to highest are;
4.Three of a Kind
8.Four of a Kind
10. Five of a Kind(only in games using wild cards)
Descriptions of Hands
1. High Card. This is the highest single card which will win if there are no other hands of a pair or better. Also the tie breaker if two players have the same winning hand.
2. A Pair. A pair consists of two cards of the same rank. A hand will consist of two like cards and three additional cards the highest of which will break a tie.
3.Two Pair. Two pair is two separate pairs of cards not to be confused with four of a kind. For example two pair would consist of two 3’s and two 7’s with a fifth card that will be a tie breaker.
4.Three of a Kind. A hand with three of a kind has five cards in total of which three are the same rank.
5.Straight. A straight is five cards in numerical order that are of different suits. For example 4,5,6 of Spades with 7,8 of Clubs.Straights cannot ‘wrap-around’ meaning they cannot continue through the ace, such as Queen, King, Ace of Hearts and 2,3 of Diamonds. That is a wrap-around straight and is not playable.
6.Flush. A flush is five cards of the same suit, not in numerical order. 2,4,5,8,9, of Hearts is a flush.
7. Full House. Also called a full Boat, is three of a kind and two of a kind in the same hand.
8.Four of a Kind. This is just what it sounds like, four cards of the same rank. In a tie the high card will determine the winner.
9. Straight Flush. This is the best possible natural hand. A Straight Flush is five cards in numerical order all of the same suit; 3,4,5,6,7 of Clubs is a straight Flush. The highest possible natural hand is a version named the Royal, or Ace High Flush which is a Straight Flush to the Ace. It looks like this; 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace of the same suit.
10. Five of a Kind. Only possible when playing with wild cards is four of a kind with a wild card which makes up the fifth.
These are the very basics of the game of Poker and you must know and understand them to be able to begin to play the game. In the next article Poker for Beginners you’ll get an introduction to two of the most popular casino poker games.
There are many different types of poker being played out there in home games around the world but we’ll concentrate on the two most popular games at online casinos and poker rooms. The most popular version of poker currently is Texas Hold’em. It is a game played with 2 personal cards dealt face down called The Hole Cards, and 5 community cards dealt face up in the middle of the table.
The game play is pretty straightforward;
1.There are two mandatory bets placed first, called The Big Blind and The Small Blind. The Big Blind is the full mandatory bet and The Small Blind is half. The purpose of these bets is to ensure that there is money in the pot even if nobody bets anymore along the way.
2.Next, every player gets dealt 2 cards face down that only they can see, and then players can bet or check if they like or fold if they must. This is the first round of betting.
3.The dealer now places 3 cards, called The Flop, on the table face up that every player can use with their hole cards to try to form a hand. Again the players bet, check or fold.
4.The dealer next puts down the fourth community card called The Turn, or Fourth Street face up on the table. The players bet, check or fold.
5.Now the dealer places the fifth and last community card, called The River, face up on the table and the last round of betting commences.
6. After the betting is finished it’s time for The Showdown. The remaining players turn over their Hole Cards and whoever puts together the best 5 card hand with personal and community wins the pot.
Seven Card Stud
Another, although slightly less popular, game of poker played at online casinos and poker rooms is Seven Card Stud. Even though the betting and game play is different from Texas Hold’em the point of the game is still the same, to put together the best 5 card hand out of all the players at the table and not be bluffed out of the game. In all poker games the ranking of the hands remain the same.
The dealing and betting in Seven Car Stud differs from Texas Hold’em in several ways but the most important is that in Seven Card Stud there are no community cards.
Again the game play is not terribly complicated.
1. The dealer deals every player two cards face down and a round of betting takes place.
2. The dealer then deals the next four rounds, one card face up to each player per round and after each round the players have the opportunity to bet, check or fold.
3. The seventh and last round is dealt one card per player face down and there is one more round of betting.
4. Just like in Texas Hold’em, after the last round of betting comes The Showdown.
These are only two of the most popular poker variants out there but if you learn to play one or both reasonably well you can sit at the table for as long as you wish and hopefully when you walk away, you’ll have a big stack to cash out.