How to Play Various Poker Games

October 31st, 2015

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Poker is a family of gambling card games involving betting and individual play, whereby the winner is determined by the ranks and combinations of players’ cards, some of which remain hidden until the end of the game. Poker games vary in the number of cards dealt, the number of shared or “community” cards, and the number of cards that remain hidden. Betting procedures vary widely among dozens of different poker game variants.

In most modern poker games, the first round of betting begins with one or more of the players making some form of a forced bet (the blind and/or ante). In standard poker, each player bets according to the rank he believes his hand is worth as compared to the other players. The action then proceeds clockwise as each player in turn must either match, or “call”, the maximum previous bet or fold, losing the amount bet so far and all further interest in the hand. A player who matches a bet may also “raise”, or increase the bet. The betting round ends when all players have either matched the last bet or folded. If all but one player folds on any round, the remaining player collects the pot and may choose to show or conceal his hand. If more than one player remains in contention after the final betting round, the hands are revealed, and the player with the winning hand takes the pot.

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Rounds of Betting

  • Opening deal – Each player is dealt two cards face down, which are known as hole cards or pocket cards.
  • First round of betting – Starting with the player to the left of the big blind, each player can call the big blind, raise, or fold. The big blind has the option to raise an otherwise unraised pot.
  • The flop – The dealer burns a card, and then deals three community cards face up. The first three cards are referred to as the flop, while all of the community cards are collectively called the board.
  • Second round of betting – Starting with the player to the left of the dealer button, each player can check or bet. Once a bet has been made, each player can raise, call, or fold.
  • The turn – The dealer burns another card, and then adds a fourth card face-up to the community cards. This fourth card is known as the turn card, or fourth street.
  • Third round of betting – It follows the same format as the second round, but the size of the bets have usually doubled in limit games.
  • The river – The dealer burns another card, and then adds a fifth and final card to the community cards. This fifth card is known as the river card, or fifth street.
  • Final round of betting – It follows the same format as the second and third rounds.
  • The showdown – Using the best five-card combination of their hole cards and the community cards, the remaining players show their hands, with the bettor or last raiser showing first. The highest five-card hand wins the pot. (In case of a tie, the pot is evenly split among the winning hands.)

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Poker is a wide-reaching and mutli-faceted game that literally has hundreds of different variations. Texas Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, 2-7 Triple Draw, Razz, Badugi, Crazy Pineapple, Chicago, Chinese, Open-Face Chinese, Guts, HORSE … the list of poker variations is, truly, a mile long.

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