Poker is probably the most popular of all the card games out there, thanks in part to an exciting format, huge sums of money offered regularly, and the swings and roundabouts that come with a game with an element of luck. Even with an element of luck, playing winning poker requires a fair amount of skill and some time to master. This guide will take you through some of the basic rules of poker and also, more generally, how to play poker.
First, let’s consider what the goals of poker are in a game of poker. The goal of most is to make money. To do that, players would have to anyreach the showdown with the best 5-card hand GOLD force everyone else out of the hand, thus winning the pot. Most games are played against the same standard hand rankings, however there are some variants that use slight variations to this standard. In this article we will focus primarily on Texas Hold’em, as it is the most popular game and a good place to start as a new player.
Texas Hold’em is a party favorite and generates the most traffic, both live and online. It is the game that appears in most major televised poker tournaments or cash games.
It is known as a community card game for the reason that there are shared cards that are used by all players when trying to make their best 5-card hand. In short, each player will receive two private cards, dealt face down, better known as hole cards. These cards are only seen by the player to whom they are dealt. Throughout the game there will be a series of betting rounds and 5 community or shared cards to be dealt. These cards are dealt face up. Players will try to make the best 5-card hand using any combination of the 7 available cards (2 private cards and 5 shared cards). This same principle applies to all poker games.
Something that makes the game really unique is that a player doesn’t have to have the best hand to win. Imagine you have ten people and you give each one a card and tell them to run uphill. The person who went up there would be the first, winning automatically. If there was a tie, the two players would hold the card given to them and the highest card would win. Poker is similar in principle. The player who stays in the hand the entire time and has the best hand wins the pot. If there is only one person going up the hill or remaining in the hand, they would be the winner, regardless of what card or hand they had. So if only one made it to the top of the hill, they would win, regardless of their hand.
Structure of the game
Ok, let’s see how the game is actually played. When starting a game, it is normal for each player to be dealt a card. The highest card gets the dealer button or button. The button acts as an indicator of who gets the cards first and also who posts the blinds. Blinds are automatic bets that are made to ensure that each pot has some money to play with (or there would be no incentive to play anything other than the higher hands). The blinds consist of two automatic bets, the small blind, posted by the player immediately to the left of the button, and the big blind, the player two seats to the left of the button. The small blind is usually half the value of the big blind. Once these bets are posted, all players are dealt 2 cards face down.
Players must now decide whether to play the hand or not, starting with the player to the left of the big blind (or 3 to the left of the dealer button). This, in general, would come down to the two cards that have been dealt to the player (although there are other factors that I will cover separately). A player has the option to call, fold or raise. Here are definitions for each action:
Fold– throw your cards into the mud and not participate in the hand anymore. By doing so, you lose your bet on the pot.
Call– to match the highest bet made so far. If the highest bet is the big blind, then it must be called to stay in the hand. If one player raises, all other players must “call the raise” or call it to stay in the hand.
Increase– This would be a bet that would be more than the big blind and a sign of strength (a good hand). If one player raises and all other players fold, they will win the default pot, regardless of the strength of their hand.
So the game moves clockwise around the table until all players have called, raised, or folded.
Once all players have completed this initial betting round, the first three community or share cards are dealt. These are spread face up on the table. The first 3 cards dealt in Hold’em are known as “the flop.” All shared cards that are dealt are known as the board cards or as “the board.” At this stage, players will attempt to build their best 5-card hand from the 2 in their hand and the 3 on the board. Some players may have already made their hand and others may need cards, yet to come, to make their hand. Either way, with 2 shared cards still to come, players will have a good indication of the strength of their holding and their chances of hitting one of the cards they may need.
Now a second round of betting takes place and again the players, moving clockwise, have the option to fold their cards, call or raise. Once this betting round is complete, a fourth community card is dealt face up, also known as “the turn”, “the turn card” or “fourth street”. Then there is a third round of betting with all the remaining players and then a fifth and final card (known as ‘fifth street’ or ‘river card’) is dealt on the board, again face up (all shared cards are dealt face above) . There is a final betting result, performed in the same way as the previous rounds, and then the showdown.
During each round of betting, it is common for some players to fold from their hand, either because the bet is too much for the strength of their hand or because they do not get the necessary cards to make a strong hand. At the showdown, any player left in the hand would flip over their hole cards to reveal their hand. The best 5-card poker hand wins the pot (which would be a collection of blinds and all bets).
Key additional points
– If all players fold, leaving one player in the hand, the hand ends there and the remaining player wins the hand.
– If a player is all in (.ie has bet all his available chips, he could only win the same amount that had been bet from each player in the hand). If players who had more than the all-in continued to bet, an additional pot would form.
– If two players have the same hand in the match, the winner is determined by the best kicker. For example, if Player 1 has the AA-2-3-4 hand and Player 2 has AA-2-3-8, both players would have a pair of aces, but Player 2 would have the next highest card, the 8 (compared to player 1 next highest is a 4). Ace is the highest possible kicker.