Poker is a game of chance. However, when you introduce the concept of betting, poker gains quite a bit of skill and psychology.
Poker is played from a standard pack of 52 cards. (Some variant games use multiple packs or add a few cards called jokers.) The cards are ranked (from high to low) Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. (Ace can be high or low, but is usually high). There are four suits (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs); however, no suit is higher than another. All poker hands contain five cards, the highest hand wins.
Some games have Wild Cards, which can take on whatever suit and rank their possessor desires. Sometimes jokers will be used as wild cards, other times, the game will specify which cards are wild (dueces, one-eyed jacks, or whatever).
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.”
7 Tips and Tricks for Playing Poker
1. Think About Ranges, Not Hands
One of the easiest ways to spot the difference between average poker players and elite ones is by how they think about what their opponent has. Average poker players try and put somebody on a specific hand. Advanced poker players think in terms of ranges.
A range is essentially the entire spectrum of hands somebody can have in a certain situation. For example, player X can have a flush, top pair, middle pair, bottom pair, a draw, ace-high or a complete air-ball bluff.
Good players understand that player X will show up with this entire range of hands with various frequencies. They try and figure out those frequencies and then make the best play. Meanwhile average players try to put an opponent on exactly (or some other specific hand) because that’s “what their gut tells them.”
Think about your opponent’s range instead. Nobody has a specific hand in poker — they only have a range. They will show up with different hands to varying degrees.
2. Ditch Your Favorite Hand
A lot of people have a favorite hand. I know that every time I get dealt the old -suited my eyes light up and I want to play it so bad!
However, in reality I know that -suited is a mediocre hand. It makes sense to play it in some spots — late position, for instance, in an unopened pot. But it should almost always be folded in early position.
If you currently have a favorite hand, that’s fine — most people do. But don’t give it preferential treatment and make bad plays with it. Winning poker is about math and cold hard logic, not superstition.
3. Adopt a Consistent Strategy
Another big key to becoming a great poker player is consistently applying a winning strategy. It is not okay suddenly to change things up (e.g. to open with -suited from early position) just because you are bored or tilted.
All of your learning, experience and study over the years has given you a body of knowledge telling you how to play this game profitably. But it only actually matters if you apply it at the poker tables all the time. Every hand counts and every session counts.
Elite poker players apply the same winning strategy over and over again, no matter how they feel or what their recent results have been.
4. Always Have a Reason
Big-time winning poker players will sometimes break from their standard, successful strategies, but always for very clear reasons.
An average player might start raising -suited in early position because he is bored or wants to make something happen. But an elite poker player will raise with this hand in this position on occasion because he notices the table is playing passively and there are a couple of recreational players in the blinds. There is a clear reason then to believe that raising -suited in early position (typically a fold under normal circumstances) might actually be a profitable play in this situation.
If you can produce a well reasoned argument why deviating from your regular strategy might actually be more profitable, then it is okay. It is the “because I feel like it” or “I am bored” reasoning that has to go.
5. Know When to Fold Your Aces
Another clear difference between average poker players and great poker players is the ability to fold an overpair.
You know that little sick feeling you get when you have and a tight opponent raises all in on the turn? You make the so called “crying call” and he turns over the set yet again.
You need to start paying attention to that feeling a little bit more often. In fact there are certain patterns that are easily recognizable at the lower stakes — especially when you play online poker — where it is 100 percent the correct play to fold your overpair.
Good players are able to let go of any emotional attachment to their pretty-looking hands. Average players get married to their aces or kings instead, and can’t let them go even when they know they are beat.
6. Realize Tilt Only Hurts You
Tilt is a destroyer of bankrolls, dreams and poker careers. I can’t tell you how often I receive emails or comments from people who describe to me how they’ve tilted huge amounts of their bankroll away when things went badly at the poker tables.
The reality of poker is that sometimes things will go badly for you and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. This is what you sign up for every time you sit down to play. There’s always the possibility you might run terribly. You might run lights out as well, though.
When you allow yourself to lose control of your emotions and throw your strategy out the window, the only person you are hurting is yourself. All those hours you’ve spent trying to learn and improve your game were basically wasted because you decided to choose your emotions over reason when it really mattered.
Respect the work that you have done. You owe it to yourself to maintain more composure and stop throwing away money when the cards go south.
7. Don’t Play in Bad Games
One more way average players constantly sabotage their poker results is by stubbornly playing in games that are full of decent-to-good regulars. If you can’t find somebody at the table who is clearly playing very poorly, then you really have to ask yourself why it is that you are even there.
If you only play poker for the mental challenge or for recreation or pleasure, then this is totally fine. This tip doesn’t necessarily apply to you. But if winning is at all a priority for you, then you need to remember you don’t turn a significant profit in poker by pushing tiny edges against good poker players. You win big by playing against players who are making big fundamental errors and giving away their money over the long term.
As the classic movie Rounders reminds us, “If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker.”
The divide between break-even players and big-time winners is not really as wide as many people think. It is often just a few simple little adjustments you can learn over time that can carry you over to enable you to start winning at higher clip.
A lot of it has to do with starting to view the game in a much more cold, detached, mathematical and logical way than you presently do.
Emotional and/or superstitious poker players almost always lose or struggle to remain even. Elite poker players, meanwhile, know they are in it for the long haul and don’t get overly wrapped up in each individual hand or moment. They just continue to make the most profitable play again and again, no matter what.