Want to know how to play Poker? Then this probably not the article you need. This guide exists to help you understand the basic concepts involved in a Poker game. You should read this and then decide if you want to learn to play afterward.
There are three main game types that are commonplace for players to engage in; Draw Poker, Stud Poker, and Community Card Poker. All three of those are played with a standard 52-card deck and can be won by the player with the best hand or the best poker face.
Hand. This is the card the player holds and can, in some cases, be partially shared with others by being face-up on the table with the dealer.
Rank. This means the number or value of the card. Highest to lowest value is Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2.
Suit. This is the set that the cards can belong to. Alphabetical order is observed so the suit ranking is Clubs (lowest), Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades (highest).
Pot. The money the players bet when entering the round. It can be increased with raises and calls.
Bluff. A player can attempt to pretend that their cards have a different value than they do in a bid to convince the other players to act with that false knowledge in mind.
Fold. The player is able to drop out of the hand, forfeiting any bets they have made.
Call. This is when the player raises to match the current highest bet or to match a raise.
Bet. The initial amount a player puts into the pot per round.
Raise. Increasing the pot to increase the win.
The Winning Hand
Let’s take a look at the best chance a player has at winning a round of Poker; having the best hand. Now here’s where it gets complicated but stick with me. There are 2,598,960 distinct hands but all fall into variations of the same 9 hands, all based on how many of each type of card you can get and what value those cards have against other cards. The following go from worst to best in regards to hand value:
- High Card
- One Pair
- Two Pair
- Three of a Kind
- Full House
- Four of a Kind
- Straight Flush
- Five of a Kind
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Now don’t get me wrong, having the best hand is not the only way to win nor is it a guaranteed win. Unless the player has a Royal Flush, the highest valued hand which by itself has a 649,739: 1 chance of coming up, they can be beaten by an opponent with a poorer hand. This can only be done through luck or through intense psychological manipulation. By reading their demeanor and behaviors, you may be able to determine aspects of their hand and plan accordingly.
You could pretend your hand is better than it is to get them to fold so you may take the pot. Or if you like a risk, you could pretend that you suspect their hand is better than yours and goading them into raising the bet to make the pot bigger for when you take it.
The term “Play the man, not the cards” comes up a lot and that is valuable wisdom. Poker isn’t really about the cards; you can win it all with being dealt a terrible hand the same way you can lose everything despite being dealt a great one. The important part of Poker is you and how you play it.