Poker is one of the oldest and most famous table games in the world. We can safely say that there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t heard about this game. Even people who never gamble have tried it at least once in their life. The reason why poker is so popular is that unlike most table or casino games where luck is the dominant factor, this game requires knowledge. There are many known and unknown facts about this table game and we will discuss all of them in the article. We will also discuss the history, rules, and tips that can help you win the game of poker. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know on this topic.
History of Poker
There are a lot of theories about when and where the poker game first appeared. For a long time, it was believed that the game originated from a domino-card game played by the Chinese emperor back in the 10th century. On the other hand, many believe that the Persian game “As Nas” was the true inspiration behind poker. It was a game played in the 16th century and this is the theory that prevailed until recently. Today the consensus is that the table game originated from a game known as “Poque”. It originated in France around the 1400s. The game was played with a deck of 52 cards just like poker is played today.
However, it wasn’t until “Poque” was Americanized around 1803 that the world learned about this game. English-speaking settlers in French America were playing “Poque” for a long time. At one point in time, they changed it to a 5 card game and gave it a new name: Poker. This new game spread like wildfire, especially in America during the 19th century. It became popular in saloons where people could gamble against each other instead of shooting each other. As a matter of fact, the game expanded the most during the Civil War. Soldiers played it all the time and everyone learned the rules. Poker became a big part of Western culture. There are a lot of Hollywood western movies where the game is often played in the background.
Poker really exploded during the 20th and 21st centuries. As the game became more familiar to the general public, new variations were created. Women started playing it even though it was a man’s only kind of game for a long time. The biggest moment in poker history was the introduction of the Texas Hold’em variation. As the name suggests, it originated in Texas, in a town called Robstown. It spread through Texas and all of America within a couple of years. Since the variation is full of action and has fast-paced gameplay, it created more interest in the game.
All of this led to the first World Series of Poker championship that took place in Las Vegas. This tournament led to the foundation of the massive poker series tournaments that we have today. A couple of years later in 1980, Texas Hold’em was legalized and the game we know and love today was born. Poker started to feature on TV, a lot of tournaments were created around the world, and ultimately the first video poker was created. During the 21st century, online poker rooms were created and tournaments today award sums that are in the millions.
How to Play Poker?
As we mentioned above, a lot of poker variants have appeared over the last couple of decades. They are all similar when it comes to gameplay but each one offers some twist or an extra feature. However, the basic game and almost all the rules are always the same. Unlike most table games, poker requires knowledge and a proper strategy. Luck is just a very small part of it. The regular gameplay starts with one player making a bet, and then the other players follow him. After that, the dealer deals 5 cards, it can be done 3 + 1 + 1 or 3 + 2. This is what we know as closed poker.
Texas Hold’em, on the other hand, has the dealer putting 5 open cards in the middle while players get 2 cards. The idea is to make the best combination with the 2 cards in their hand and the 5 cards on the table. Playing poker depends on which version of the game you are planning to play. For that reason, we are going to explain all the rules, all the choices players can make in the game, and the hand values ranked from worst to best. Additionally, we will also explain all the different variants of the game.
Knowledge and strategy are required in whatever poker game you are playing. However, before practising and learning strategies, players should familiarize themselves with the rules of the game. The interesting thing is that understanding the rules is very simple. However, executing them to perfection takes a lot of experience. Keep reading to learn more about the hand values and all the player rules.
The first rule of every poker game is to know all the hand values. That’s the only way to know if your hand is better than what the other players have. We are going to list the value from the one that ranks lowest up to the highest.
- High Card: This happens when the player doesn’t have any combination in his hand. All five cards are with different values and have different suits. In such a case, the highest value card wins. The highest value card is always the Ace.
- Pair: Having a pair means having two cards of the same value.
- Two Pairs: This combination means the player has two same-value cards and two other cards of the same value 2+2.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards with the same value.
- Straight: Five cards of a different suit but in consecutive order. For instance a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.
- Flush: Five cards from the same suit. They don’t have to be in consecutive order, just the cards to have the same suit.
- Full House: This is a combination of a three-of-a-kind and a pair. For instance 3 kings and 2 jacks.
- Four of a Kind: The name is self-explanatory here. The hand consists of four cards of equal value. For example, 4 queens. If two players have a four-of-a-kind, the player with the bigger value cards wins.
- Straight Flush: Five cards that are in consecutive order and also have the same suit. If two players have a straight flush, the person with the higher value cards wins.
- Royal Flush: This is the highest hand that a player can get in poker. It consists of 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, and all of them have to be in the same suit. In poker variants where suit ranking has applied the spades have the highest ranking, followed by hearts, diamonds, and clubs as the lowest.
Flop, Turn & River Cards
The hand values are always the same in every version of poker. However, the flop, turn, and river cards are not there in every variant. They are present in versions like Texas Hold’em. In that poker game, there are five community cards which are dealt in the middle. Depending on the version of the game, the dealer puts 3+1+1 or 3+2 cards in the middle of the table. These cards belong to all the players and they can combine them with the 2 cards in their hand to create the best five-card combination.
The first three cards that are dealt are known as the flop. Players place their initial bets and then these cards are dealt. After the flop, players choose to fold, bet, or check. After that, the dealer deals one more card which is called the turn. In some versions of poker, the 2 cards are dealt together which means the turn portion is skipped. At this point, the players have another choice to make. They either bet higher, check, or fold. Finally, the last card is dealt and we call that one the river.
No matter the variant of poker that’s being played, the following four options can be used by the players at any time.
- Fold – Players can decide to stop betting and fold at any time. However, this means that he will lose the bets that he made so far.
- Call – If one of the players decides to increase the current bet, every player has the option to “call”. This means that they will bet as much as the player who increased the wager.
- Raise – Players who have a good hand can decide to raise the initial bet and wait for the other players to either call or fold.
- Check – If no player increases the wager, and you don’t raise the bet as well, you can “check” allowing the next card to be drawn or the next player to make a different decision.
Before we start the next section, we have to explain that there are poker types and poker variants. The terms are different because poker types talk about how the game is played. Poker variants, on the other hand, refer to the name of a game which is a part of one of the types. With that being said, there are only four poker types and all variants of the game fit in one of those four types.
- Straight Poker – This is the oldest version of poker. Players get five cards and they are all face down. Then the betting happens, players can raise or re-raise the amount that one of the players has set. After the betting is done, the cards are flipped and we can see who the winner is.
- Draw Poker – This is the type we mentioned at the beginning of the article. Each player gets five cards that are face down. Then the first betting stage starts. After that’s over, the players can choose to discard some of their cards and the dealer will give them new ones. After the players try to improve their hand, they can check, raise, or fold. Once the second betting stage is over, they open their cards to reveal their hands.
- Community Card Poker – This is the most popular version of the game today. Each player gets two cards while community cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the table. The idea is to create the best five-card hand with the two cards you have and three of the five community cards. Texas Hold’em is the variant that’s part of this category.
- Stud Poker – The last version we have is a game where players get their cards alternatively. At the start of the round, all the cards are face down and then they are revealed in the following rounds. This type of poker has several rounds and bets can be placed in each of those rounds. Seven Card Stud is the most popular game in this category. In it, players are dealt seven cards each, with the goal of putting together the top five.
Most Popular Variants
There are a lot of poker variants out there and we will cover the most popular ones. These days, straight-and-draw poker is rarely played. The most popular variants are Texas Hold’em and Casino Hold’em which belong to the community card poker. Below, we will explain the difference between the two. Additionally, we will cover Seven Card Stud poker which is of course part of the stud poker type. Lastly, we will share a few details about a variant that we haven’t yet mentioned.
This is the most popular poker game and it’s played all around the world. You play against other players, minimum being two and maximum being ten. Just like in all other versions, the goal is to have the highest winning hand. As we said above, Texas Hold’em is a community card poker game. This means that players get two cards that need to be combined with three out of the five community cards that will be dealt on the table. Casino Hold’em is basically the same game but instead of playing against other players, you play against the house. The reason why this version has the word casino in the name is that it’s mostly present at online casinos.
Seven-Card Stud Poker
As the name suggests, this variant of the game belongs to the stud poker type. Just like the Texas Hold’em, it can be played with a minimum of two and a maximum of eight players. In the Seven-Card Stud, there is no flop card and no community cards. Instead of that, each player gets seven cards, dealt to them one by one. The first three cards are dealt face down, and the next four are face up. The player has to choose his best five-card combination. It is very important to pay close attention to the opponent’s cards. That way, you can have an estimate of what to expect or not expect.
Last but not least, we have a version of the game that’s not part of any of the types we mentioned above. The reason for this is simple, video poker is a whole different animal. It’s a game that’s a combination of poker and a slot machine. Instead of playing on a table, this game looks like you are playing on a slot machine. Additionally, you play against the machine. The payouts are fixed and each hand pays out a certain reward. There are a lot of video poker games out there and each one has different payouts. The idea is to find one that has the biggest payouts and the best RTP.
Poker Tips & Tricks
The usual gambling strategies won’t help you when it comes to poker. It’s one thing to learn the rules and make a plan but it’s a whole other thing for that plan to work. The best players know how to count cards, how to bluff, etc. For that reason, we will give you a few tips that will help you play better.
- Making rational decisions – Don’t let emotions affect your decisions. Check, raise, and fold based on the hand you were dealt.
- Play with good cards – Certain hands can’t be fixed so don’t go running around raising with a Texas Hold’em hand of 2 and a 7.
- Aggression and selection – Play aggressively when you have a good hand but be selective when you think your hand is not good enough. Don’t rush into forced decisions.
- Learn from mistakes – This tip is self-explanatory. Everyone makes mistakes but great players learn from their experience and fix their game.
- Be flexible – Don’t limit yourself to one type of poker. Sometimes people are better at Texas Hold’em compared to Seven Card Stud. Find what’s the best for you and but try the other versions when you get a chance.