What is Poker?

poker

Poker is a various number of card games in which opposing players wager over whoever has the best hand of cards (differs depending on the type of poker). The six most popular types of poker include: Texas Hold' Em, Omaha, 7-Card Stud, 5-Card Draw, High/Low Chicago, and Follow the Queen. Texas Hold'em is the most popular among professionals and recreational players.


History

poker history

True to its spirit of bluffing and misdirection, poker's history is full of rumors and apocryphal origins: was it developed in China, or did it start in Persia? Either way, the earliest version of poker in European history was probably the 17th-century French game poque, which is where the English language gets the word poker, which evolved alongside the German pochen as a new version of the Spanish game primero. This already global game made its way to New World by way of French settlers who brought it to North America.

Poker has always existed in American card rooms, be they glitzy casinos or seedy dives. But starting in the 1970s, the game became more organized as the World Series of Poker was developed to declare the game's champions, and more recently, the rise and fall of internet poker led to a boom that, while no longer as trendy as it once was, still attracts thousands of players, amateurs and professionals alike.

Playing Surface

poker table top

A table (preferably a round table) with some surrounding chairs for players to sit in is all one needs as a playing surface for poker.

Equipment

Poker Equipment

Don't let fancy cardrooms fool you: all players need to play poker are cards. The classic 52-card deck is standard in most games. Four of each card, four different suits: hearts, spades, clubs, diamonds.

Most games are played with chips, which stand in for money. There are a couple of reasons for this, including the fact that chips are easier than cash (easier to stack, count, keep track of, and make change with). But the big reason is psychology; players like to trade chips instead of trading piles of money. Each chip represents a different dollar amount.

If you're starting a home game, you'll also need a large, round table and chairs. Most poker games have a limit of 8 or 9 players to a table.

Gameplay

Poker is a betting card game that mixes the ability to read opponents, the ability to predict odds, and the ability to keep a cool demeanor while making big bluffs. Some might say the object of the game is to have the best hand, but the real point is to get chips from your opponents, and having the best hand is just one way to do it.

In poker, players are dealt hands of different ranks: different combinations of cards trump others. Players take turns wagering chips on their hands' strength, either calling each other's bets if they think they have the best hand or folding if they think they're beat. If a player folds, the better takes the chips in the pot, but if everyone calls, then the players show their hands and the best one wins.

There are dozens of variations of poker, from Hold 'Em to Stud to Draw to Badugi, but in every variation, the basic mechanics stay the same: bet chips, and either win it all or lose it all. The game is filled with chance and risk.

There are hundreds of ways to play poker, and every casino or cardroom has its own rules, but the basics usually remain the same. Most poker games involve a blind bet of some kind, called either a blind or an ante. Players put these in before being dealt cards. After the blind or ante, players are dealt cards, usually hole cards which are cards they keep hidden from their opponents.

In between cards being dealt, there are rounds of betting. Here, players might have the option to check, which is passing on betting. But players can also bet, put chips into the pot that their opponents have to match, or forfeit their hand. Players can also raise, which is betting more chips on top of their opponent's previous bet.

These rounds of betting go on until either every player has folded, in which case the last person to bet wins the chips, or until the players have been dealt all their cards and they showdown. In this, the players show their hands and the best one wins.

In tournament play, these hands go on until one player has won every chip. Games can be intense and seem like they will go on forever. Stamina and focus are key attributes.

Positions and Roles

poker positions

Under the gun: The first person/seat to place a bet once the cards have been dealt (often a tough position -- must initiate betting for the round).

Middle Position: Can play more conservative and is able to see what another player bets before deciding to call, raise, or fold.

Hijack: Ability to play more hands than opposing players, more profitable than other players.

Cutoff: 2nd best seat in poker; profitable and play 25% to 30% of hands.

Button: Best seat in poker, play a wide range of hands, approximately 50%

Small blind: A player must place in chips before seeing a hand for the round, massive Disadvantage.

Big blind: 2nd blind seat, results in a huge loss.

Lingo and Terminology

poker lingo and terminology

In poker, there is a special language that only a poker player comprehends. Poker players have their own unique lingo and terminology. Non-players might not understand a lot of a poker player's language, but fellow poker players will be on board.

  • Ante: A small bet a player is required to make before cards are dealt for the round
  • Backdoor: When the cards that are dealt for the round fulfill what is necessary for a player in order to make their hand competitive
  • Bubble: Top finisher who doesn't make money (They are a "bubble player")
  • Burn: Discarding the top card before betting for each round incase one can distinguish the number or suit of the card
  • Call: Contributing the minimum amount of money to the pot necessary to continue playing a hand
  • Check: Pass on betting; if a subsequent bet is made, a player can call, check, or fold
  • Flush: A hand consisting of five cards of the same suit
  • Fold: Drop out of the round because of a "bad hand" of cards or because of a perceived disadvantage compared to opposing players
  • Full House: Three of a kind of one card plus a pair of another card
  • Quads: Four of a kind
  • River: Final of five community cards
  • Royal Flush: Best possible hand in poker; An ace to high straight flush
  • Straight: A hand consisting of five cards in sequence

Skills and Techniques

List of Poker Skills

Here are some skills and techniques that poker players can use while they play:

  • Do not be greedy and become over-confident
  • Be smart and conservative; focus on the opposing player and their tendencies
  • Be patient and disciplined
  • Judge your own position compared to others
  • Be analytical; what are the odds a certain card appears after being shown multiple times? Probability matters.

Strategy

Here are some important poker strategies:

  • Play fewer hands, but play them aggressively
  • "Semi-Bluff" aggressively with your draws; make an opponent player think as if you have a strong hand
  • Play your strong hands quickly to build the pot and to make more money
  • Defend your big blind (with the right hand)
  • Fold when uncertain
  • Take advantage of an opposing player when you feel as if they have a weak hand
  • Play solid poker early in tournaments (do not worry about survival)
  • Play in high-level games and if you are in the mood to spend hours at the table

Poker Coaches

Poker Coaching

A coach must have a great deal of knowledge on the game and strategies of poker itself. The great coaches of poker know what it takes to win a vast amount of money on the big stage. The five coaches below are a few of the premier poker coaches:

COACHHOURLY FEE
Kenna James$200
Alex Fitzgerald$125 (minimum 6 hours)
Jonathan Little$500
Scott Clements$200
James Sweenet$200

As seen from the table, these coaches can get super pricey even when only requesting an hour of the time.

Poker Players

There are a few famous and highly-skilled poker players that stand out. Below are ten of the most prominent poker players to ever play the game. Whether it be for how much money they have won or to their ability to "bluff," these professionals are known for their poker prowess.

PLAYERLOCATION
Bryn KenneyUSA
Daniel NegreanuCanada
Erik SeidelUSA
Jason KoonUSA
Fedor HolzGermany
Justin BonomoUSA
Dan SmithUSA
David PetersUSA
Daniel ColmanUSA
Stephen ChidwickEngland

Poker Tournaments

Currently, there are different levels of competitive poker tournaments and leagues that are played all over the world. From beginners to advanced, players are able to stay active and take part in the game they love with the hopes of winning huge sums of money. Some popular tournaments include:

TOURNAMENT
World Series of Poker (WSOP)
World Poker Tour (WPT)
European Poker Tour (EPT)
Champions Poker League (CPL)
World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP)
Big One for the Drop

Poker Teams

Poker is an individual sport. A player sits around a table with the hopes of having the best hand and winning millions of dollars. However, on the rare occasion that tag team poker events occur, players may substitute in and out for one another at the table.

Poker Books

poker books

Poker books are often fiction, nonfiction, or novels on how to train players to help them improve their poker game. Some of the more popular poker books include:

TITLEAUTHOR
Playing the PlayerEd Miller
Elements of PokerTommy Angelo
The Theory of PokerDavid Sklansky
Kill EveryoneLee Nelson
Ace on the RiverBarry Greenstein
The Mental Game of PokerJared Tendler
Applications of No-Limit Hold-EmMatthew Janda

Poker Websites

Poker Websites

There are many different poker websites that each serve its own special purpose. There are sites made for poker, whether it be from online tournaments, to training sessions, or to exploring rankings. Some of these websites include:

FAQ

What is the object of poker?

The object of poker is to ultimately have the best hand at the end of each round to win the most amount of chips possible. Chips represent various amounts of money. More chips means a richer player.

When I fold, do I lose any money that I have already invested in the pot?

Yes, if one folds from a round, they will be giving away any chips that they have already invested in the pot for the round.

What is the best starting hand in Texas Hold'em?

A pair of aces.

What is the worst starting hand in Texas Hold'em?

2 and 7 of different suits.