Poker

Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world, and Texas Hold’em is the variation you will probably see online. Each player is dealt two cards, and then further cards are revealed which every player can use to combine with their hand. Get the best hand, or convince the others that your poor hand is a winner, and walk away with the pot.

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Poker

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Poker - How to Play

Poker is based around betting on your hand ranking higher than that of the other players.  It is a hugely popular casino card game, and strategy plays a major part in your chances of winning.  Whilst chance is, as always, a key element of this casino game, poker offers players the chance to really work with probability, carefully evaluate the odds of success and use psychology to win.

Texas Hold‘em

Texas Hold’em is a variation of poker which is extremely popular, and one you are likely to find in play at the casino.  The rules for this variation of the game are the ones used in this guide, but other types of poker work in a similar way.

Dealing

Once all the players are ready, a dealer button is placed with one player, and this will move clockwise after each hand.  Each player will receive two ‘hole’ cards, which means they are dealt face down, keeping their value unknown to opponents.  You can place your first bets based on these cards, and there will be a forced bet, or blind, for two players.

Blind bets

The player to the left of the dealer button must place a small blind, which is an enforced bet, and the player next on the left must play the big blind.  As the dealer button moves, the big blind and little blinds move, so it is fair.

A small blind would be half the big blind, and these forced bets ensure that there is money to win and a game to be played!  There may also be antes, which are starting contributions from all players.

Call, fold or raise

You have the opportunity at this stage to call, where you bet a sum equal to the big blind.  Alternatively, if you’re feeling very confident, you can raise, and increase the stakes.  Should you be convinced that your hand offers nothing, then you can fold, losing any money you may have already put in (such as an ante or blind).

The flop

After the first round of betting, the ‘flop’ is dealt.  This is the first three of five community cards, available for everyone to use in combination with their hand.  After further betting, the fourth card, or ‘turn’, is dealt, followed by the fifth card, also known as the ‘river’.

Ranking hands

The aim of the game is to win with a high ranking set of cards, or at least play in such a way that others believe your cards are too good, causing them to fold.

The cards rank as follows, lowest to highest:

High card – The highest single card of all players, with no higher ranking hand at the table.

One pair – Two matching card values, such as 10 of hearts and 10 of clubs.

Two pair – Two sets of two matching card values.

Three of a kind – Three matching card values.

Straight – Five cards in sequence, using at least two suits.

Flush – Five card from the same suit.

Full house – Three of a kind with one pair.

Four of a kind – Four matching card values.

Straight flush – Five cards in sequence from the same suit.

Royal flush – The top five sequential cards from the same suit: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10.

When you play with a poor hand, but use psychology and confidence to convince the other players your hand is competitive or, even almost unbeatable, then it is known as bluffing.  This forms a key part of poker.

If you do have an excellent hand, or bluff that you do, and everyone folds, the pot is yours and you don’t have to show your hand, so no-one can be sure whether they were right to fold in the end.  It would be possible to bluff your way to winning the pot with nothing but a high card Queen, but you would certainly be far more confident with four of a kind.

There are further rules to poker, and further variations, but this should give you the basics to get started and enjoy one of the most popular casino games.