Sunday, January 6, 2008

Poker Basics: General Poker Rules

Poker Basics: General Poker Rules

Poker is one of the most widely played card games in the world. It has many variations but their goal is always the same: To get the best possible "hand" or at least convince your opponents that you do. A hand is a combination of cards, such as cards of the same suit, cards in sequence and so on. There are fixed Poker hand rankings, based on how rarely they can happen. The way cards are dealt to each player, and how stakes are made, depends on the Poker variant being played.

Let us look at the basic Poker rules:

In multiple-player Poker games such as Texas Holdem, there is a theoretical "dealer." It may not be an actual dealer, for in casinos there is an independent dealer who never plays in the game. But the dealer position is important as it decides the betting order. At each betting round, the imaginary dealer button rotates so that the player positions also shift. Player positions have an influence on how one plays.

At the start of a game, one or more of the players make mandatory bets. Then the cards are shuffled and dealt to each player, either facing up or facing down depending on which Poker game it is. Once players have their cards, a round of betting begins. In a betting round, the players take turns answering a bet. A player can call, fold or raise (or check depending on their position). To call means to match the last bet made with the same amount of money. To fold is to withdraw from the game. To raise means to increase the bet. In case of a raise, the betting rotation continues so the other players can either call the bet or fold. A betting round ends when everyone has either called or folded.

If more than one player is left at the end of a round, a "showdown" takes place. Players reveal their cards to see who has the better hand according to the hand rankings. But if one player makes a bet that everyone else folds to, that player instantly wins the pot without having to show their cards. That is why you can "bluff" in Poker; that is, pretend you have a better hand than you really do by making a bold bet.

Poker variants can be grouped into three main categories:

DRAW POKER. A player is dealt five or more cards. They can have one or more cards replaced in hopes of getting a better hand. Video Poker games like Jacks or Better are an example of this type of Poker game.

COMMUNITY CARD POKER. In games like Omaha poker and Texas Holdem, each player gets to combine their hand with the dealer cards known as "community cards," called so because everyone shares them.

STUD POKER. In Stud Poker, a player is dealt one card at a time. They cannot have cards replaced unlike in Draw Poker games.

When learning to play Poker, start by memorizing the hand rankings. Play a one-player game like Video Poker to get used to the hands. Then you can learn the table games like Texas Holdem. There are many places on the Web where you can download software and play for real money or for fun.