Poker refers to a group of turn-based card games involving gambling and comparing the strength of hand rankings. There are many variations of poker games, each with different sequences of betting and revealing cards.
Each poker game involves a comparison of players' five-card hands. These combinations are ranked on a predetermined scale. This standard poker hand ranking determines who has the best hand based on the combination of cards in each players' hands. Specific variants of poker may include exceptions to this scale, but the general model is used in nearly every version.
There are four main types of poker games: communal, draw, straight, and stud.
Communal poker games involve cards in the center of the table that may be used by any player at the table to create their best five-card hand possible.
Draw poker allows players to exchange some or all of their hand for better cards.
Straight poker means players may only use the cards dealt to them.
In stud poker, players are given face-down (private) and face-up (communally visible) cards for their hand.
There are two different sets of odds in poker that players use to determine when to stay in the game or fold their hand: pot odds and probability. These are not required parts of the game, but determining pot odds and probabilities can be helpful to know in the heat of a decision.
Pot odds refer to the cost of staying in the game with a "call" relative to the size of the overall pot. The current size of the pot is added to the amount to call, then divided by the cost to call.
|EXAMPLE: If there is $40 in the pot and it will cost $10 to call, the pot odds are ($40 + $10 = $50; $50 / $10; =) 50 / 10, or 5:1.|
Other types of pot odds include implied pot odds and reverse implied pot odds, which take possible future outcomes into account for drawing games.
Probability is used in poker to determine the likelihood of a player's (or opponent's) hand being the strongest. The probabilities of drawing a certain hand have been calculated and are predetermined.
Probability is also important when considering the likelihood of a player to see or receive a certain card that they might need. There are 52 cards in a complete deck divided into four suits of 13. This basic knowledge helps players determine how much they should wager on any given hand of poker.
Professional poker players will often weigh the probability of their hand being the best against the pot odds. There are many websites listing these poker odds for different game modes. Knowing the odds of what a player has or needs gives players a leg up on the competition.
Poker training sites exist to teach people how to make a profit by playing poker. There are certainly players who make a living off playing poker, although this represents a very small fraction of overall players. Training sites can help people reach these goals, but they are never guaranteed to work.
Identifying which site is the "best" is dependent on a player's base skill set, experience, and willingness to pay. Some of these sites collect hefty fees that can be hundreds of dollars.
Some of the most well-renowned poker sites include:
The classic format of a poker game has many steps.
First, each round begins with either an "anty" or "blinds." These are predetermined payments made by some or all of the players to the pot. This ensures that there is at least some money in the pot for each round.
Next, each player is dealt a certain number of cards by the dealer. This responsibility rotates each round.
Once each player has their hand, the player to the left of the dealer begins the betting, wagering as much as or as little as they want. They can also "check," which passes the betting responsibility to the next player.
Each player around the table must match ("call") the original bet to stay in the game. If they do not want to bet, they must "fold" their hand, eliminating themselves from the round.
After a round of betting, an action occurs that reveals more cards for each remaining player. This action is different based on the type of poker being played. For example, in five-card draw, this is when players exchange cards from their hand and are dealt new ones; in Texas Hold 'Em, this is where the first set of communal cards (the "flop") are revealed.
Betting continues in order until either all but one player drops out or there are no more cards to be revealed. The player with the strongest remaining hand takes the entire pot.