Spawned by a historical movement which also has a direct link to the development of commercial gambling, the modern version of poker has its roots in America. Despite opposing views on the true origin of the card game that can be called the predecessor of modern poker, this version of the game that spread in the Mississippi delta during the early 18 th century has been regarded as such based on its particular betting scheme. The betting scheme of this version of the game resembles largely those of what are known as modern versions of poker today.
Learning how to play poker is easy, however, despite the many variations of the game.
Like typical card games, poker also has similar betting rules and, most of the time, the same hand rankings. The variations of poker differ based on a number of factors: the way cards are dealt to players, the way hands are formed or combined, how the pot is split among winners, and how the rules and limits on betting are implemented. In modern poker, for instance, most variations start with some kind of a forced bet that each preceding player to the left tries to match. During his turn, the player who has no capacity to match the previous bet can choose to fold or lay down his cards and quit playing his hand. A hand is a set of cards held by players in a game of poker. Typically, a hand consists of five cards.
A player who holds a hand with high winning potentials or has the ability to bluff his way to victory can opt to increase his or her bet. The betting stops when all the players have either folded or matched the final bet. However, the remaining players, in case only a sole player folded on any round, can collect and snare the pot. They also have the option to conceal their cards from the other players. A player who is very confident on the positive expected value of his bet can voluntarily place more money on the pot. However, this excludes the initial forced bets.
Albeit very much a game of chance, the outcome of a poker game is highly determined by the players’ actions. Poker, therefore, is a combination of science, particularly psychology, and probability, which is also treated as a branch of mathematics.
As with any other card game, the basic rules of poker can be learned systematically.
Here are seven basic steps on how to play poker:
Familiarize yourself with the hand rankings of poker. Like most card games, the winner in the game of poker is the person who holds the highest valued set of cards or hand. It is impossible to win if you do not have the knowledge on which hands are inclined to win the pot. As a rule, if two hands have equal value, the hand that has the highest value card wins. In poker, ace has the highest value. It is highly advised to memorize the hand rankings in poker.
Learn how to chip in. To chip in means to put a token bet or an ante into the pot, which is in the center spot of the game table. However, you could also use your own pot if you prefer. Each player must place an amount that matches other players’ currency. Poker chips are the most common form of currency used in the game of professional poker. In some games, however, any currency or bet such as bills, coins, car keys, etc. can be used. The game is based on a winner-takes-all policy.
Know the basics of dealing cards. A poker game is not complete without an official dealer. The dealer’s task is to shuffle the cards and distribute them face down, beginning with the player on his or her left. He then continues dealing in a clockwise direction and one card at a time until all the players have their complete initial hands. The card deck is then placed at the center of the table after the dealing is done.
Mind your own cards, but also be aware of your opponents’ reactions. It is an imperative to evaluate your cards to determine how you hand will fare on the game. However, it is also important to observe tells. Tells are known in poker jargon as your opponents reactions based on how weak or strong their hands are. These are typically physical gestures such as shallow breathing, quirky hand gestures, eye contacts or the lack of, etc. Tells often betray a player to his or her opponents for it usually gives other players an idea on how strong or weak a particular hand is. Piece of advice: always wear a poker face. This means you must reduce these tells as much as possible.
Learn the rules of turns. The player on the dealer’s left is the first person who usually makes a call or bet. This particular player can either open or check. To open means that he place the first bet, while to check is to pass the betting task to the next player. When the pot is opened, players who already have their turns can either:
Call or stay in the game by matching with his currency the amount placed in the pot;
Or fold, which means that the player opts to put his or her card face down on the game table and quit the game.
When everyone has already made their choices, players who still have their turns can raise or stay in the game via placing an amount that exceeds the value of the last person’s additional bet on the pot.
Learn how to draw. After every player has had his or her turn, you can discard up to three cards and have them replaced by the dealer. This is done in turns, beginning from the dealer’s immediate left and in clockwise direction. In discarding cards, you have to decide on the cards that has the least chance of adding value to your hand’s chances of winning. However, you can also opt to keep your initial cards.
Show your cards. After the initial bets and draws, players show their hands on the table to see who the winner is. The winner takes all the money on the pot.
What we have shown you are the rules of the common variation of poker. Rules may vary or can be modified according to particular game variations. If you need to know more on how to play poker variations, the Internet provides a vast source for some of the basic rules on the different poker variants. In parting, we leave you with four helpful tips that will surely make you a better poker player: stay sharp, keep your focus, relax, and enjoy the game.