Poker for Beginners

Poker is a card game, played primarily for gambling purposes, in which a player bets that the aggregate value of the hand he holds is greater than the value of any hand held by another player. Two leading forms of the game are draw poker and stud poker. Basic poker has many popular variations, such as "jackpots," "seven-card stud," "high-low stud," and "high-low draw."

Poker, for which a standard 52-card deck is used, may be played by any number of persons from two to ten, but the best game involves five to seven players. The cards rank from ace (high) to two-spot, and the game is scored by chips in the center of the table that may represent money. Chips in this "pot" are won by the highest-ranking hand.

Ranking Combinations

A poker hand contains five cards. Highest is royal flush: ace, king, queen, jack, ten, of the same suit; then, in this order, straight flush: five cards of the same suit in sequence; four of a kind: four cards of the same denomination; full house: three cards of one denomination and two of another; flush: five cards of the same suit; straight: five cards in sequence; three of a kind: three cards of the same denomination; two pairs: two cards of one denomination and two of another; one pair: two cards of the same denomination. The ace may be regarded as the lowest card of a straight. Between hands of the same class, the winner is determined by high cards.

Draw Poker

In the traditional game of draw poker, after a preliminary betting round, each active player discards as many cards, of the five that have been dealt, as that player wishes, getting replacements from the dealer. The player who made the first bet in the preliminary round then starts another betting period. At its conclusion, all active players must reveal their entire hands in the showdown. However, if only one player remains active, he need not show hi cards.

Stud Poker

In stud poker each player is dealt a card face down ("hole card"), then another face up. This is followed by a betting interval. The player holding the highest visible card always starts the first betting round. Each player is then dealt three more cards face up, one at a time, with a betting round after each card. The player holding the highest visible combination of cards starts each betting round. After the last betting period there is a showdown as in draw poker.

Betting

The amount of the ante (the preliminary bet before each hand) and the limits on betting should be set in advance. The full pack of 52 cards is cut for deal, highest being the dealer. Before the hand is dealt, the players usually ante a prescribed amount. The cards are dealt, one at a time to each player. Depending on the game, one player bets, and it is up to the others in turn to "call," "raise," "pass," or "check." To call, one puts up the same amount as any previous player; to raise, one puts up more chips. If a player refuses to call or raise, that player must pass and is out of that particular pot. A player can check (retain the right to bet or "see" without putting up any chips) until someone places a bet, but then he can only throw in his hand, "see," or "raise." A round of betting is complete when all players have called or passed.

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