How to Play Poker

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Poker Overview

Poker is one of most played card gambling games of all times. There are many global events that are themed around this game such as the WSOP (World Series of Poker). The game of poker became popular since the early 20th Century and it started to gain momentum until it transformed from a recreational activity to a popular spectator activity with international viewers and tournaments that has multimillion dollar prizes.

Poker, as a card game, depends on a percentage of luck but it also depends on the ability of players to bluff and call hands. This is why poker is not entirely a game of luck because with a good poker face, a bad hand can win a very good hand. There are many types of poker, and each variant has its own following.

Poker Hands’ Ranking

The strength of the poker hand is what defines the winner at any variant of poker. Poker hands consist of 5 cards. It is also important to know that all suits are treated equally in poker, unlike other games where Spade is the highest and Clubs is the lowest. The ranking is as followed from the highest hands to the lowest ones:

Royal Flush:

This is the highest poker hand ever. A Royal Flush occurs when players get five cards that start with 10 and a straight to Ace (10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace) that are matching suit.

Straight Flush:

It occurs when players get any other straight than (10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace) that has matching suit.

Four (4) of a Kind:

The name explains it; it’s when the player has 4 identical cards (four aces, four 2’s). The fifth card is called a Kicker, the player who has the highest kicker card wins the pot incase two people have this hand.

Full House:

A Full House occurs when players get a hand that contains three cards with the same rank accompanied by 2 cards with the same rank. (e.g. 3x Kings + 2x Aces).

Flush:

A Flush occurs when players have 5 cards that have matching suit. The highest card from the 5 cards determines its strength. For instance a Flush with an Ace will beat a Flush with a King.

Straight:

When the five cards are consecutive, it is called a Straight and the higher the numbers, the stronger the hand. For instance, a straight from six to ten beats a straight from four to eight.

Three of a Kind:

The name explains it; it occurs when players get three cards that have the same rank. The strength of the two other cards ‘Kickers’ determines the strength of the hand.

Two Pairs:

It is when players get 2 cards with the same rank accompanies by 2 cards with the same rank. As usual, the 5th card ‘Kicker’ determines the strength of the hand.

Pair:

A Pair occurs when the player gets 2 cards with the same Rank.

High Card:

When none of the poker hands are present, the player who has the highest card is the winning player.

The Game Procedure

The game procedure differs from one variant of poker to another. Although the concept and the poker hand ranking is the same, the procedure itself differs. So here are three of the most played poker variants and their game’s procedure.

1-Texas Hold’em Poker:

Each player at the table is dealt two cards then a betting round starts. Each player starts to place bets according to his hand. All players must call the highest bet made by any player or fold. After the first betting round is over with, the dealer will put three cards facing up on the poker table (they are called the flop). This gives players a better judgment on their hands and another betting round starts.

Then the dealer will place another card facing up on the poker table which ignites another betting round. The last card is then placed facing up on the poker table (it is called the river card) then the last betting round starts. After all players call or fold the highest bet, the showdown starts. The pot is either won by the player who has the best hand or split between players if they have equal hands.

2) 7-Card Stud Poker:

7-Card Stud Poker resembles Texas Hold’em poker. It was the most played kind of poker until the 70s when Texas Hold’em poker arrived. In this game, each player is dealt 2 cards facing down (hole cards) and one card facing up.  The player who has the lowest card will start the wagering round; players must call and match the highest wager or fold.

The dealer will then deal each player another card facing up; it is called the 4th card or the turn. Another round of wagering starts from the player who has the highest cards.  This keeps happening until the dealer deals 7 cards to each player. Now each player has 5 cards that are facing up and two cards (hole cards) facing down. Following the last betting round, the showdown occurs. The player who has the highest hand of 5 cards from the 7 cards wins.

3) Omaha Poker:

This variant of poker is most similar to Texas Hold’em Poker. The only differences is that players get four cards dealt to them instead of two and players try to make the best five card poker hand from the nine cards, the four in their hands and the 5 on the table.