The earliest version of poker dates back to the sixteenth century when the Germans played a bluffing game called "Pochen." It later evolved into the French version, "Poque," which was brought to New Orleans and played on the boats that traveled up and down the Mississippi River. The game's next refinement was in the 1830s, which is when it became known as poker. Poker can be played socially or professionally, and players in poker rooms or casinos could be playing for thousands of dollars.

Game Types

Poker is played from a standard 52-card deck, although some variations of poker use multiple packs or add jokers. The most popular form of poker is Texas Hold'em, and common variations include Omaha poker and 7-card stud poker.


The standard deck has four suits - spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs - and no suit is higher than another. The cards themselves are ranked from high to low as follows: ace (which can be high or low, but usually is high), king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2.


Poker is almost always played with chips. Usually, the white or lightest colored chip is the unit, or lowest-valued, chip, and it's worth whatever the minimum ante, or bet, is. Other colored chips are worth a certain amount of the light-colored chips. At the start of the game, each player purchases a certain number of chips (usually everyone purchases the same amount) and uses them to bet.


When it's a player's turn to bet, they can call, raise or fold: calling means they put the same number of chips into the pot, raising means they put in more than enough chips to call and folding means they put in no chips, discard their hand and are out until the next deal. A betting interval ends when the bets have been equalized, meaning when each player has either dropped or put in exactly as many chips as the other players.

Five Card Draw

In five card draw, one of the most common types of hands, each player is dealt five cards, then there's a round of betting. Each player can then discard up to three cards and replace them with cards from the deck. This rule about drawing cards to improve a hand was added around the time of the Civil War. After that, there's at least one more round of betting, depending on which variation is being played, and then hands are revealed (known as the showdown) to see whose is the highest hand. The player with the ranking highest hand is the winner.

Card Rankings

Hands are ranked from high to low as follows:

  • Five of a kind (only possible when using wild cards)
  • Straight flush, or five cards in order (5-6-7-8-9) that are all the same suit.
  • An ace-high straight flush (A-K-Q-J-10) is known as a royal flush and is the highest hand possible without wild cards involved.
  • Four of a kind
  • Full house, or three of a kind plus a pair
  • Flush, or a hand where all the cards are the same suit
  • Straight, or five cards in order of any suit
  • Three of a kind
  • Two pair, or two distinct pairs and a fifth card
  • Pair
  • High card