The basics of poker explained
Poker is without doubt one of the cleverest games ever devised. A near perfect combination of skill, luck and psychology, it is quick for the first time player to learn and yet can take a lifetime to master.
Types of poker
There are many poker variants, but all games revolve around poker hands that are made up of five cards, and have an established poker hand rankings. Cards can be dealt to players face up, face down or as community cards that are shared between all players.
Different types of poker such as Texas Hold'Em, Omaha and 7-Card Stud vary in the number of cards used, and the way in which they are used.
All poker games also share the concept of betting where players compete in each round for a pot of money. The pot is built up over various rounds of betting, during which players must match the highest bet to remain in the game.
The beauty of the betting system is that it allows for bluffing, or basically fooling your opponents into believing you have a better hands than you actually hold. In professional poker, the majority of hands are won wihout anybody ever seeing the winning hand, and so the player placing the highest bet may not actually have the best hand.
Poker hand rankings
Here are the standard poker rankings in descending order:
- Royal flush - Ah, Kh, Qh, Jh, 10h.
- Straight flush - a run of cards all of the same suit e.g. 9c, 8c, 7c, 6c, 5c. The higher the top card the stronger the hand.
- Four of a kind - 4 cards all the same value e.g. Qh, Qd, Qc, Qs. The higher the value, the stronger the hand.
- Full house - 3 cards of one value, and 2 cards of another e.g. 9c, 9d, 9s, 4h, 4c. The higher the value of the 3 cards the stronger the hand.
- Flush - any 5 cards all of the same suit e.g. Ad, 10d, 9d, 5d, 2d.
- Straight - a run of 5 cards, in various suits e.g. Jd, 10c, 9c, 8h, 7s
- Three of a kind - 3 cards of the same value e.g. 4h, 4d, 4s.
- Two pair - 2 set of 2 cards of the same value e.g. Qh, Qd, 7d, 7s. The next highest card in your hand is used to settle any ties.
- One pair - 2 cards of the same value e.g. 5d, 5s. The next highest card in your hand is used to settle any ties.
- High card - if none of the above hands apply, your highest card counts.