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The Rules of Poker

Poker is a family of games with countless variations, some internationally famous and played by millions such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, Stud, and Draw, while others with unique house rules may be played by two on a solitary table.

The games differ in the amount of cards dealt and the way bets are made, such as in some games all of the cards are hidden and unique to an individual player and in others there are shared community cards as well as hidden cards.

What they have in common is that the best possible ‘hand’ is determined by achieving a particular combination of cards. In some poker games this is the one with the highest rank, hence the one least likely to occur statistically, while in others it may be the exact opposite with the lowest ranked hand considered the best.

Another attribute, and likely the one that makes poker both so exciting and alluring, is that the rounds of betting are perfectly suited for bluffing. It’s rare that anyone has a truly unbeatable hand, so they will almost always have to at least suspect that someone has a better one – if they bet confidently enough. This means the game doesn’t merely require a knowledge of mathematical probabilities to play well, it requires an advanced understanding of game play and human psychology. Poker is truly a game of skill – but there’s enough luck thrown in to even the playing field for beginners.

Poker Hands of five cards scored in descending order are:

Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards, all of the same suit
Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank or value
Full House: Three cards of the same rank plus a pair of the same rank
Flush: Five cards of the same suit, but not consecutive
Straight: Five consecutive cards
Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank
Two Pairs: 2 x two cards of the same rank
One Pair: Two cards of the same rank
High Card: Should no one have any of the above hands, the highest card wins.

In most poker games before any cards are dealt some or all of the players are forced to make a bet, called the blind or ante, and this goes into the pot. The pot is the combination of the blinds, antes and any subsequently bets, and is the prize-money at risk in that hand. Cards are dealt and bets made in turn in a clockwise direction around the table. Each player decides upon the basis of their hand whether to match (‘call’) or raise the bet to stay in the hand or to fold which means they are conceding defeat in that particular hand and losing the chance to win the pot. You can also ‘check’ – neither bet nor fold – if no one has bet before you.

If a player makes a bet and everyone else folds, this player collects the pot and that hand is over. The winner is not obliged to show his cards if his bet was not called. A final showdown only takes place when two or more players are still in the hand after all the cards have been dealt and the rounds of betting finished, at which the player with the best hand wins the pot.
A poker player generally does not put money into the pot and so risk losing it, unless they are sure that they have the best hand; or they have the potential to make the best hand with the next card dealt (eg drawing to a flush or straight); or they think their bet will convince their opponents they have the strongest hand in order to make them fold (ie bluffing).


> read Texas Hold’em for Beginners:

> 10 Poker Tips for Beginners:

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