Poker is an exciting game that requires strategy, patience, the ability to read an opponent and above all, a level head. While poker can be played with tokens or matchsticks, the real fun begins when money is on the table and the onus is on you to think clearly under pressure. Unlike most casino games that involve a lot of luck, poker leans more towards skill and interpretation rather than chance alone. Here’s a little introduction into how to play poker so that next time a friend hosts a Poker night, you don’t pass up the opportunity!
The aim of the game is to get the best possible five-card combination from the two hole cards that are dealt to you and the five community cards that are laid on the table. The first thing that you need to do is memorise the value of each hand:
Before a hand is played, the two players to the left of the dealer are forced into a blind bet. The player immediately to the dealer’s left is the small blind and usually has to pay half the minimum bet. The player second to the dealer’s left, the big blind, contributes the minimum bet.
Now the dealer deals every player the two hole cards. Starting from the player to the left of the big blind, each player can make one of three choices:
- Fold, to discard their hand and wait for the next deal
- Call, to match the bet of the big blind, or
- Raise, to increase the bet amount
Standard poker rules require that raises must be at least equal to the amount of the previous bet or raise. For example, if an opponent bets £5, a player may raise by another £5 (or more), but he may not raise by only £2.
Betting continues until all players that haven’t folded match the last raise made.
Now the dealer deals the first three community cards called the flop, face up so that everyone can see them.
Beginning to the left of the dealer, another round of betting begins. Again, a player can fold, call or raise, but can also check. A check means to stay in the hand but to not bet. It can only be done if no bets have been played prior to their turn.
This round continues into all bets have been matched. The dealer will now deal a fourth community card, called the turn.
Once again, a round of betting begins starting to the dealer’s left and continues into all bets have been equalled.
A final card, the river, is now turned over to make the 5th community card. Now there are five cards face up on the table and two face down in each player’s hand.
The final round of betting starts with the remaining players and ends when all players have bet the same amount.
Once the last round of betting has finished, players show their hands. This starts with the last person to bet and moves around the table clockwise. The winner is the player with the best five card combination.