Online video poker is very popular, and everybody’s favourite game seems to be Texas Hold ‘Em poker. But there are other popular variants of the game. So here’s an introductory guide on how to play poker and some information about different types of poker games.
The equipment needed for poker is a deck of cards with the jokers removed, plus some poker chips. And any poker game needs a minimum of two players. Then you’re ready to play either Stud Poker or Draw Poker. These are the two most basic types of poker play.
Each player is dealt five cards, or possibly seven in some game variants. In the next phase, players evaluate the hand they have received, betting chips according to that assessment. The game will be won by whichever player wagers the highest number of chips – unless another player is happy to match the bid. When that happens, the final two (or more) players still in the game reveal their cards. The highest value hand wins everything.
Each player is dealt five cards. This is then followed by a betting phase. The players remaining in the game can then try to improve their hands. This is done by trading in as many as three cards and receiving new cards from the deck. Any player holding an Ace is allowed to trade in his remaining four cards for new ones if he wishes.
In each game, every player (starting off to the left of the dealer) can choose one of the following options in the betting rounds:
Raise: Any player who believes he has a strong hand – or wants to convince everyone else that it’s good – can increase the bet needed to stay in the game.
Fold: Any player who believes he’s been dealt a poor hand (and doesn’t want to bluff or increase his bet) can lay down his cards. Though he can’t now win, he won’t lose any further chips either.
Call: When any player increases the initial stake, every player then decides whether to raise the stakes once more, quit and fold his cards, or else to make a call – which means matching the bet of the player who raised.
Check: When nobody raises the bet needed to carry on, a player may opt to stick with the hand he was dealt. This is known as checking – passing up the chance to bet.
Assessing your hand
In each game, every player tries to assemble their optimum five-card poker hand. The strongest hands are always the hardest to create. An Ace is the highest-value card. The value of the remaining cards falls according to this descending sequence: King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
Here are some typical poker hands, with cards ranked from low to high value:
High card – with no useful sequences, a hand’s value is the highest single card. The second-highest can be used as a tie-breaker. e.g. 4♣ 7♦ 10♠ Q♥ A♠
One Pair – Two of the same value cards form a pair e.g. 8♠ 8♦ 4♣ 7♣ K♥
Two Pairs – If several players have pairs, the highest value pair wins. e.g. 8♠ 8♦ 5♣ 5♥ 7♥
Three of a Kind – e.g. 8♠ 8♦ 8♥ 5♣ 7♣
Straight – A five-card running sequence, of any suit. If there’s more than one straight hand, the higher values win. e.g. 9♦10♠ J♠ Q♥ K♦
Flush – If there are five cards in a matching suit, the hand is a flush. If there’s more than one flush, the higher values win. e.g. 9♠ 5♠ Q♠ K♠ 7♠
Full House- If a player holds a pair and three-of-a-kind in the same hand, that’s a Full House. e.g. 9♠ 9♦ 9♥ 5♣ 5♥
Four of a Kind – This is a strong poker hand. e.g. 8♠ 8♦ 8♥ 8♣ 5♣
Straight Flush – A straight flush consists of a sequence of five consecutive cards of a matching suit. e.g. 9♠ 10♠ J♠ Q♠ K♠
Royal Flush – A great hand. The royal flush is a straight flush ending with an Ace – an unbeatable combination.
e.g. 10♥ J♥ Q♥ K♥ A♥
Texas Hold ’Em Poker
Texas Hold ‘Em poker starts when every player is dealt two “pocket” or “hole cards”. And next, the players wait for 5 community cards to be shown.
The betting then occurs in four rounds:
1) The first round follows on after the hole cards have been dealt.
2) The next betting round occurs after the first three community cards have been shown. This is always referred to as the ‘flop’.
3) Once more after the fourth community card has been shown. This is known as the ‘turn’.
4) And finally, after the fifth community card is turned over. This is known as ‘the river’.
All players must aim to create their strongest hand using any combination of 5 cards (= their hole cards, plus the community options available on the table).