From the thousands of card games played across the world, the popularity of Poker remains unmatched.
The origin of Poker can be dated back to the 1830s and is believed to have been started by the French settlers in New Orleans, USA.
From there, the strategic card game has turned into a recreation activity, a hobby and, for some, a profession.
Professional Poker is as lucrative as some of the major sports like football and basketball, with prizes running into millions of dollars, and tournaments being broadcast across the globe.
Many variations of Poker have emerged but the most well-known is Texas Hold’Em Poker. The basics in all forms, however, remain the same.
Texas Hold’Em Poker can be played with a minimum of two players while the maximum is 10.
Simply put, to win a Poker game, players need to combine the two cards dealt to them with the five cards on the table to make the best five-card combination, which is called a hand.
Before we move further, it is essential to understand the different five-card combinations and their rankings.
Poker hand rankings
The ranking of Poker hands is used to determine the strength of the hands and eventually the winners. There are 10 different poker hand combinations.
- Royal flush
The best hand a player can have in Poker is called a royal flush. This set includes an Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 all from the same suit, meaning all five cards are from clubs, diamonds, hearts or spades.
For instance, the two cards dealt to a player are 10 of spades and King of spades and the five cards on the table, called community cards, are 3 of diamonds, 7 of clubs, Queen of spades, Jack of spades and Ace of Spades.
Now the player will combine his two cards (10 of spades and King of spades) with Queen of spades, Jack of spades and Ace of spades to make a royal flush.
- Straight flush
This hand includes five consecutive cards from the same suit, which is not a royal flush. For example, 3 of hearts, 4 of hearts, 5 of hearts, 6 of hearts and 7 of hearts is a straight flush.
- Four of a kind
Having the same ranked card in all four suits (queen of hearts, queen of spades, queen of clubs and queen of diamonds).
- Full house
This hand has three cards of the same rank in any suit (three of a kind) and two cards of another rank in any suit.
Possessing any five cards of the same suit leads to a flush.
It has five cards in sequential rank but can be from different suits (2 of hearts, 3 of spades, 4 of clubs, 5 of hearts, 6 of spades).
- Three of a kind
Three cards of the same rank from different suits like 5 of clubs, 5 of hearts, 5 of diamonds. The two highest cards available complete the five-card combination.
- Two pairs
This hand is made of two cards of the same rank but different suits and another pair of cards with the same rank and different suits.
A pair contains two cards of the same rank but different suits.
- High card
High card is the weakest hand in Poker. The highest-ranked card is the differentiator in this hand.
Now that we know the Poker hand combinations, we can learn how to play the game.
How to play Poker?
The goal of Poker is to end with the best five-card combination possible.
The dealer gives out two cards from a 52-card deck to each player and places five cards on the table in a sequential manner. Players need to combine their two cards with the community cards on the table to make the best five-card hand.
To play a round of Poker, players need to first bet their ‘ante’, which is basically the entry fee.
The dealer gives out two cards to each player and the first round of betting begins.
The players start betting according to their cards and their confidence in them. If a player believes his cards can get him the victory, he will raise the bet or add more money to the pot.
Other players need to match the bet or call to continue playing. If a player thinks his cards are not strong, he can fold, meaning he will withdraw from the round and his initial ante is lost.
There is also an option to not raise the bet and just choose ‘check,’ which is to decline putting in any extra money in the pot. If all players check, the round moves forward.
The dealer then deals the first three community cards on the table face up. There are now enough cards to make a five-card combination.
The second round of betting begins and is similar to the first. Players can also go all in or put all their money in the bet.
The dealer puts the fourth community card, called the turn, on the table and the third round of betting ensues.
The last community card, known as the river, is dealt and the final betting round commences.
After the last round of betting, players who have not folded reveal their cards. The player with the best five-card combination according to the hand rankings is declared the winner and given all the money in the pot.