Poker is a simple game offering various versions such as Five-card draw poker, Stud Poker and Community poker.
The general game of Poker (Five card draw) is played with a standard deck of fifty-two playing cards. Cards are ranked from high to low in the following order: ACE, KING, QUEEN, JACK, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. ACES are worth more than KINGS which are worth more than QUEENS, which are worth more than JACKS etc, etc. The cards are separated into four suits, which are SPADES, CLUBS, HEARTS and DIAMONDS. The object of the game is to get the highest-valued hand, ranked as follows:
- ROYAL FLUSH – Same suit; A-K-Q-J-10.
- FIVE OF A KIND – Four cards of the same denomination plus a joker.
- STRAIGHT FLUSH – Any five card suit in the same sequence.
- FOUR OF A KIND – Four cards of the same index.
- FULL HOUSE – Three of a kind combined with a pair.
- FLUSH – Any five cards of same suit but not in sequence.
- STRAIGHT – Five cards in sequence but not of same suit.
- THREE OF A KIND – Three cards of the same index.
- TWO PAIR – Two separate pairs.
- ONE PAIR – Two cards of the same index.
- HIGH CARD – Highest card in your hand.
Poker hand rankings are a function of probability, the more rare the hand the more valuable it is. Before the game begins, players must decide on the betting limit and if you are playing on-line then you will want to choose a betting limit that you can afford. The basic rules are as follows:
Each player places an ante or “token bet” into the kitty before the cards dealt. The ante can be any amount. You need an ante because it guarantees that someone will always win something on each hand. Once everyone has paid their ante, the dealer deals cards face down around the table, starting at the player to his left and continuing clockwise. The dealer always deals to himself last and then deals everyone a first card, then goes back around the circle to deal the second card, and so forth. When everyone has five cards, the remainder of the deck is placed in the middle of the table, and game begins.
Each player looks at their cards without letting anyone else see them, then the first player places a bet. Whilst there are various ways of deciding who bets first, poker beginners are better off by allowing the player directly to the left of the dealer place the first bet. Then to the next hand, the person to his left will bet first and so on around the table for each new hand.
Players have several options as far as the first round of betting goes. If no one has made a bet yet, you have two choices: (OPEN & CHECK)
OPEN: If no betting has been done when your turn comes, you may “open” the kitty. This allows you to make the first bet (any amount up to the betting limit).
CHECK: The opportunity to “check” only occurs if no one has opened the betting round and then it is time for you to decide what to do. When a player checks, it means that they do not want to open the betting, but at the same time they don’t want to quit either. If someone opens the betting you now have three choices: (SEE, RAISE, and FOLD)
SEE: When you “see” another player it means that you match their bet. So whatever the other player bets and you still want to stay in the game, however you have to “see” their bet by placing the same amount into the kitty.
RAISE: When you “raise” it requires you to first “see” the previous bet, and then increase the bet. If the previous person bet a R1 and you want to bet more than that, you must then say “I see (match) your $/£, and raise you (increase the bet) another $/£”.
FOLD: When someone else opens, you can cut your losses and fold your cards. When you “fold” you “give up” and place your cards face down on the table, and loose whatever you have bet so far. You only “fold” when you think your hand is too weak to compete against the other players.
All the players who have not folded their cards are then allowed to replace them with new cards. A player is allowed to get rid of up to three unwanted cards and receive up to three new cards from the deck (the player must always have five cards in total). No one sees what anyone has discarded or drew. All cards a placed face down.
After each player has replaced their hand with new cards, the betting begins. You now have the option of opening or checking, and once someone has opened, you may see, raise, or fold. The game ends when there are no more raises or everyone has folded except for the winner.
Everyone now has to turn their cards over and see how where they stand. The player with the highest hand wins the pot.
Poker is about psychology where you play against your opponents. A small hand does not have to be the best hand possible, it just has to be better than what all the other players are holding. The art of good poker is learning and understanding your opponent’s body language.
Mastering the psychology of poker is ability to observe how others play and using that experience to judge how your opponents handle each hand. Making mental notes of how the player bets whether it is strong or weak, and at showdown keep track of which player’s fold and which players bet. This way you will see whether a player bets strongly on a weak hand and whether the hand would make it or not.
Bluffing is a skill that takes time to master and you will have to play thousands of hands to gradually understand the concept. You will get a feeling for how players bet in response to what they are holding in their hands. This is when you must focus on how they respond to other players. The mathematical strategies that apply can be of assistance especially in community and stud games, giving you information about your opponents a poker psychology is best learned during these games as you never know which cards have been discarded.
It is also important to adjust your strategy as you learn to identify which player is playing tight or loose. If they are playing loose then they will bet heavily or stay in for a long time even whilst holding a weak hand. Tight players tend to fold all the time and they are categorized as passive or aggressive players.
Each time a hand is played another way from the way you would of played it and if you could see your challenger’s cards, they profit and every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it and if you could see all their cards, they loose. On the other hand, each time your challenger’s plays their hands differently from the way they would have if they could see all your cards, you profit and each time they play their hands the same way they would have played it if they could see all your cards, you loose.
Every choice made in poker can be analysed in terms of expected value, which expresses the standard payouts of a choice made on frequently basis. The right choice to make is the choice that has the biggest payout value but sometimes it is better to opt for the choice for a bigger goal of enduring trickery. Should you be able to see all your challenger’s cards then you will always be able to analyse the correct choice with mathematical sureness. The less you digress from the correct choices the better your long-term results and this is the mathematic extraction of the Fundamental theorem.
The most vital goal in poker is to induce your challengers to make mistakes. The Fundamental theorem of poker applies to all heads-up choices but does not apply to multi-way decisions. As each challenger makes incorrect choices the ‘combined choices’ of challengers works against the player. This situation happens mostly in loose-passive games when a player is holding a strong hand but the other players are in pursuit with draws. In this circumstance it is referred to as ‘implicit collusion’. The specialists disagree on the occurrence of implicit collusion in certain games as well as the level to which implicit collusion might be unprincipled. The Fundamental theorem of poker is expressed and seems self-evident yet its correct use to the numerous probable situations that a poker player may face which needs an immense amount of expertise, wisdom and understanding.
- No cheating.
- No swearing.
- No abuse.
- No defacing of property.
- No drugs.
- No weapons.
- No excessive noise.
- No acting out of turn.
- No checking a hand when third player is all-in.
- No reading of another player’s hand before it has been placed face-up on the table.
- Not to reveal a live hand in a multi-handed pot before the betting is complete.
- No messing with the chips.
- Not to mess with the already discarded cards.
- No stacking chips in a way that interferes with dealing or viewing of cards.
- No unnecessarily stalling the action of the game.
- No unnecessary statements or actions that unfairly influence course of play.
THE BUY IN
- Before entering a game a full buy-in must be made for that particular game. A full buy-in at limit poker is ten times the maximum bet for the game being played.
- A player that has been forced to move from a broken game has to move game to game of the same limit and may continue to play for the same amount of money, even if it’s less than the minimum buy-in. When switching games one must have the right buy-in size for each new game.
- You are allowed to make one short buy-in per game. Adding to your stack is not considered a buy-in and can be done in any amount between hands.
- The dealer has exposed two or more cards.
- The first or second card of the hand has been dealt face-up or shown in error by the dealer.
- An incorrect number of cards have been dealt to player.
- Any card that has been dealt out of sequence.
- Two or more boxed cards are found.
- Two or more extra cars have been dealt in the starting hands of the game.
- When a player has been dealt out that is entitle to a hand. This player has to be present at the table or have a posted blind or ante.
- The first card that is dealt to the wrong position.
- Cards that have been dealt to an empty seat or a player that is not entitled to a hand.
- When you announce that you are folding or facing a bet or a raise.
- In stud games, when facing a bet and pick your face-up cards off the table or turn your face-up cards face-down or mix your up-cards and down-cards together.
- When you throw your hand away in a forward motion causing other players to act behind you.
- When you act on a hand with a joker as a hole card in a game not using a joker.
BETTING AND RAISING
- Check-raise is permitted in all games except in some forms of lowball.
- In limit poker when a pot involves three or more players who are not all-in then a game with three or more betting rounds allows a maximum of a bet and three raises or a game with two betting rounds allows a maximum of a bet and four raises.
- In no-limit and pot-limit, unlimited raising is allowed.
- Unlimited raising is allowed in heads-up play. This applies when an action becomes heads-up before the raising has been capped. Once raising is capped on the betting round another fold that leaves two players heads-up may uncap it.
- In limit play, all-in bets or less than half a bet does no reopen the betting for any player who already acted and is in the pot for all previous bets. A player that faces less than half a bet may fold, call or complete the wager.
- Any bet must be the size of the previous bet or raise in that round unless a player is going all-in.
- The smallest chip that is wagered in a game is used in the antes, rake, collection or blinds.
- A verbal statement shows your action and is binding.
- Rapping the table with your hand is a pass.
- Acting out of turn is no allowed and a player who checks out of turn may not bet or raise on the next turn to act.
- In order to retain the right to act a player gas to stop the action by calling ‘time’. Failure to do so before three or more players have acted behind you may cause you to loose the right to act. You may forfeit your right to act when the player in front of you has not acted and only if you fail to act when it is your turn. Should you wait for someone’s turn to come before you and three or more player’s act behind you, this does not stop your right to act.
- When you make a forward motion in limit poker with chips and cause another player to act then you may be forced to complete your action.
- A player who bets and calls by releasing chips into the pot is bound by that action. Should you be unaware that the pot has been raised you have the right to withdraw that money and reconsider your action provided that no one else has acted after you.
- String raises are not permitted.
- All wagers and calls of an improper low amount have to be brought up to proper size.
- If you have a single chip in the pot that is larger than the bet but did not announce a raise then you are assumed to have only called.
- A player must show all cards in the hand face-up on the table to win any part of the winnings.
- Cards read for themselves and the dealer assists in reading them but it is the player’s responsibility for holding onto their cards until the winner is declared.
- Any floor person, player or dealer who sees an incorrect amount of chips placed into the pot is obliged to point out the error.
- The dealer will kill loosing hands before the pot is awarded.
- Any player may request to see any hand that has been called. If a player other than the winner asks to see a hand that has been folded, that hand is dead. If the winner asks to see a loosing player’s hand then both hands are live and best hand wins all.
- Should you show your cards to another player during or after a deal any other player at the table also has the right to see those exposed cards.
- On the final betting round and everyone is all-in, the player who acts first is the first to show the hand. If there is betting on the final round then the last player has to take action by a bet or raise in the first to show the hand.
- The ranking of suits from highest to lowest in spades, hearts, clubs and Diamonds. Suits never break a tie for winning a pot and only used to break a tie between cards of the same rank.
- Dealing cards to each player is used to determine things like who moves to another table or seating order. When the cards are dealt the order is clockwise starting with the first player on the dealer’s left hand side.
- An odd chip will be broken down to the smallest unit used in the game. No player may receive more than one odd chip.