How to Play Poker

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The Basics

In its simplest form Poker is a very basic game. The strategy however is very complex.

The object of the game is to win the sum of money that is bet or wagered during hands of play that continue throughout the course of a game (minus the house charges or ‘rake’). You can win the pot in two distinct ways, at the end of each hand you hold the best hand or you bluff your opponent and make them fold the hand they are holding, by making them think your hand is of a greater value.

  • Each game of poker starts with players putting a certain amount of money or chips into the pot. This is an obligatory bet, or fee and is called the “blinds”. In some cases an ante is also paid which means every player puts a fixed nominal percentage of the minimum stake into the pot.

In Texas Hold’em or Omaha, blinds are paid by the two players to the left of the dealer (The dealer is designated by a button which moves clockwise around the table, to enable each participating player to pay the blinds and have the deal). This initial bet starts the pot. The first player to the left of the dealer button places the small blind which is half the minimum bet and the next player places the big blind, equal to the minimum bet. The rotation of the dealer button and blinds assures that every player gets their turn and no one position has an advantage over the next.

Hand Rankings

A standard card deck contains 52 cards. There are four suits and each card has a ranking that runs downward from Ace-King-Queen and so forth down to 2 (two). The Ace, however, can be used as a 1 (one). The four suits are spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds. Most poker games are played with seven cards, some of which are community cards that everyone can use to achieve the best 5-card hand. Possible winning hands are based in order of the odds of their occurrence and are ranked, starting with the highest: