Poker is a competitive card game among several players. In this game, the dealer will not interfere with the gameplay; he will just deal the cards and pay winnings. The casinos or poker venues make money by taking a percentage of the winnings or charging players a fee. Of course, some versions of poker have been adapted to become casino games where players play against the dealer who is representing the house or the casino, but these are not the original poker games that are widely known and played by millions.
There are different versions of Poker, but they all share the same primary concept, which is to have a better poker hand and the same poker hand ranking. The showdown will occur at the end where the remaining players will show their hands and a comparison will take place — the highest poker hand will be the winning hand. Poker can vary with the dealing order, the betting system and the wagering rounds between the dealing procedures.
To master the game of poker and understand the poker ranking, follow the tutorial to help you understand the game and its rules. This tutorial includes the history of the game, the rules, the odds and the strategy that will help you become a professional poker player.
According to the British actor Joseph Crowell, the history of poker dates back to 1829 in Louisiana. The game was played by 4 players with 20 decks of cards. According to the book “An Exposure of Arts and Miseries of Gambling” by Jonathan H. Green, the game then started to spread from New Orleans to the other areas of the United States. The game traveled with the boats of the Mississippi River — these boats had a reputation for having a lot of gambling activities.
The game we know now was not the same in those times. It evolved and went through a number of phases, specifically during the Civil War in the United States. All of these phases and circumstances resulted in multiple versions, including Stud Poker and Straight Poker. Other versions came about with the introduction of new concepts like the wild card, community card, lowball and split pot poker.
The popularity of poker started to increase rapidly in 1970 when the first ever World Series of Poker (WSOP) took place. This was the first poker competition to be held on a broad scale. Those who won in these early tournaments included some of the biggest names in the poker world, including Bobby Baldwin, Puggy Pearson, Amarillo Slim and Doyle Brunson. Doyle Branson is the author of the first book about poker strategy, called “Super / System.”
Mainstream media capitalized on the popularity of poker by the 1980s. In the press, poker was portrayed and viewed as a recreational activity. It made an appearance in more than 10 episodes of the hit sci-fi TV show, “Star Trek,” where it was a weekly game the senior staff of the fictional spaceship enjoyed.
Poker rose to new heights in the 1990s when gambling started to spread in the United States. It was highly popular in Atlantic City, which is a gambling empire second in the United States only to Las Vegas.
The popularity of poker spiked in the first years of the 21st century, a direct result of hole-card cameras and the advent of online poker. Online poker helped the spread of the game to anyone who had a computer. No longer were players obligated to leave home in order to enjoy the game. As for the hole-card cameras, they single-handedly turned poker from a card game into a spectator sport that players can watch and enjoy.
Besides the WSOP, other poker tours that started to capitalize on the game’s popularity, including the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour. The first poker governing body, the International Federation of Poker, was founded in Switzerland in 2009.
How to Play Poker
How to play poker depends on the version itself. Different poker versions have different gaming and dealing procedures and different wagering rounds. So in order to cater to the needs of all poker fans, we are going to discuss the gaming process of four of the most popular poker versions.
There is no skill or decision making needed in Straight Poker. In this game, each player will place an Ante bet and is dealt 5 cards. A wagering round will then begin, and players will raise and re-raise or fold. When the wagering round is over, each player will show his 5 cards, and the showdown will begin, and the highest poker hand will win.
Texas Hold’em Poker:
Texas Hold’em Poker is one of the most popular poker games in the world. It is the kind played in online poker venues and the WSOP.
The game starts as each player places an Ante. They will then be dealt two cards each, which will only be seen by their owner. A wagering round will be held and players will raise, call or fold. After that, the dealer will deal the flop, which consists of three cards dealt on the poker table. Another betting round will initiate, a fourth card dealt, then another wagering round and the last card (the river card.) Finally, the last and the most aggressive betting round will take place. The remaining players will then reveal their two cards and the player who has the best 5 cards from the 2 cards in his hand and the 5 cards on the table will win the pot.
7-Card Stud Poker:
This game was the most played poker game in the world before it was overtaken by Texas Hold’em Poker. In 7-card stud poker, players will start the game by placing an ante and they will also get 2 cards like Texas Hold’em. This is followed by a wagering round and then each player will be dealt a card that is facing up. This same procedure will continue until each player has 2 cards facing down in his hand and 5 cards facing up. After the final wagering round, players will show their two cards and the best poker hand they can form from the seven cards they have. Some games might use community cards, which are shared cards.
5-Card Draw Poker:
5-card draw poker was adapted to video poker games. In this game, players will be dealt 5 cards at once, facing down. A wagering round will take place, then players will select the cards they want to replace. They will give them back to the dealer and get replacement cards forming the final 5-card poker hand. A final wagering round will take place before the showdown.
The rules of poker are pretty simple, but they do differ from one version to another. The basic rules remain the same across games, like the ranking of the poker hands. This is one of the most important rules because not knowing which hand is stronger can result in a disaster at the poker table. Here is the order of the different poker hands from the lowest to the highest hand:
The High card is the highest card if no players have any poker hand. The strength of the high card against the same high card depends on the kicker, which is the second card in value. For example, a hand that has an Ace and a Jack will beat a hand that has an Ace and a 9 because it has an Ace High card and a Jack Kicker.
If a poker hand has two cards of the same denomination, it is a pair. The strength of the pair against the same pair is also determined by the kicker in the same way as the high card.
When a player has two pairs in his hand, the fifth card is the kicker which sets the dispute between identical two pairs
Three of a Kind:
A Three of a Kind is when a poker hand has three identical cards. For example, a hand that consists of J, J, K J and Q is a Three of a Kind hand.
A Straight is when a player gets 5 consecutive cards in his poker hand, regardless of their suite and color. An example is a hand that has 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
When players get 5 cards that have the same suit and color, regardless of their value. So a hand that consists of J, K, 6, 5 and 4 of Spades is a Spade Flush. The strength of the flush against other flushes depends on the highest card in hand.
A mixed hand with a Pair and three of a kind. Players will have to get 2 identical cards and 3 identical cards such as a hand of J, J, K, K, and K.
Four of a Kind:
When players get four identical cards. There is another similar hand that is called Five of a Kind which can only be possible if there is a joker in the deck of cards. Four identical cards + a joker will form Five of a Kind.
A Straight Flush:
A mix between Flush and Straight. It occurs when players get 5 cards that are consecutive in value, and they have the same suite.
This hand forms when players get a straight flush that starts with a Ten and goes up to an Ace. For example, a poker hand of 10, J, Q, K and A of Spades would qualify to be a Royal Flush. This is the strongest poker hand possible.
To understand and know your poker odds, you must calculate the “outs.” The “outs” are the cards that will improve your hand and make it a winning one. If you have a hand of 3, 4, 5, 6 and you think the other player has two Aces; you need the river card to be a 2 or a 7 so you can make a straight. So 2’s and 7’s are your “outs.”
You have two cards in your hand that are “Queen of Hearts + 9 of Hearts” and on the table, there are “Ace of Hearts + King of Hearts + any two cards”. If the opponent starts to place big bets, there is a huge chance he has a pair of Kings or even a pair of Aces. You will not worry about him having a flush because you will have the highest Flush with the Queen. In order to win that hand, you need one more heart cards as the river so you can create your flush.
Every card deck contains 13 cards of the same suit: if you count out the cards, you have (2) and the cards on the table (2), which means there are 9 hearts left in the deck. Thus, you have 9 “outs.”
Now it is time to turn these “outs” into numerical odds so you can make a decision. Since there are fifty-two cards in the deck and you have 2 cards in your hand, and there are four on the table, that leaves 46 cards (we ignore what the other player is holding).
That means that you have 9 cards out of 46 possible cards that could make a flush and win while there are 37 cards that can make you lose. The odds of you getting a winning card on the river are 37:9. This can be simplified to 4 to 1. Therefore, you are 4 times more likely to lose the hand than win it.
Now that we know your odds of winning are 4:1, the next decision is whether to call the bet or not. It depends on the amount of money in the pot. This does not mean you should go for it if the pot is big, but you should look at the ratio of the money you will win compared to the bet you are going to call. So if the opponent raised $10, making the pot equal $100, you have the chance to bet $10 on 4:1 odds to win $100. You should take the bet and call it because 4:1 odds means you will win $40 for $10, but you are getting the win at 10:1. You should call it in a heartbeat.
Poker is a game of decisions and you will have to make correct decisions to win. Even the best poker players lose at some point, so do not give up when you lose a few hands. You will lose some and win more if you make good decisions. Don’t judge your ability to play poker with a few poker hands, but look at your overall results over days, weeks and months.
Poker is a mathematical game that offers players incomplete information. Although that might sound a little complicated, it is not. On a basic level, winning a poker hand starts with selecting which starting hands to continue playing. If you enter the game with a good hand more often than the other players, you are going to win more than they do.
Although the starting hands are very important, it is only one piece of the poker strategy puzzle. After deciding which hands to play with, you will also have to know how to play that good hand, when to raise, when to call and even when to fold — even if you have a good hand. You will have to calculate the odds, recognize the betting patterns of other players, use your position and bluff. All of these needs years of practice.
Don’t Become Emotional
Emotions can ruin your game of poker. Some players might try to get on your nerves or use your emotions against you. You should always keep calm and avoid any kind of emotional play. Being emotional will cause you to make bad decisions that are based on emotions rather than numbers. For example, if you are on a losing streak, other players might start to tease you knowing you are already mad because of the losing streak. This could cause you to double your bets because you are angry and trying to make up for the losses. If that happens, you should leave the game to cool off. The game will still be there after a couple of hours and it is going to be there tomorrow. Clear your mind before you can start playing again.
Bluffing is not recommended as it needs years of practice and depends on your ability to maintain a good poker face. Having a good poker face means keeping the same facial expressions regardless of whether you have a good or bad hand, so players will not know when you are bluffing. Bluffing means you will raise the bet or even go “all-in” while you have a very bad hand. This will cause other players who might have much better hands to fold thinking you have a much better hand. You should not always bluff because, if you do, other players will notice and they are most likely to call your bluff.