Ever since the first poker game was played back in the 19th century somewhere in the USA, this casino classic has been intriguing many. So whether you’re a passionate poker player or a rookie, there is always a question hovering above your head: “What kind of game poker really is?”
Let’s try to find the answer together.
The Winning Combinations in a Poker Game
I think it is only right to start by saying a few words about the combinations of cards that will bring you money in a poker game.
The high card is the weakest hand in poker. If no players have any other combination at showdown, the one with the strongest single card will win (Ace being the highest ranking one).
Next, we have a pair, followed by two pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, and then we reach the strongest combinations in poker.
Straight Flush is a sequence of “plain” cards of the same suit, while the Royal Flush is the most sought after poker hand, consisting of five highest-ranking cards in a row of the same suit. In any case, if you end up with a Royal Flush in your hands, you can be positive that you’ll be the winner of that round.
The Basics of Poker
Poker is a well-known card game that has come a long way since its beginnings. It didn’t take long for this card game to become a classic. It gained such an immense following that there have always been people who dreamt of becoming masters of poker, not just because of the loads of money this casino game can bring but also because of the reputation and respect the title of a poker star carries. In gambling circles, being successful at poker is a significant achievement.
Back to the topic at hand, let’s start by explaining how the basic poker game works. There are usually five players in a classic Five-Card Draw poker game. In the beginning, each player puts a small amount of money as a bet to make a pot. This kind of bet is known as an ante.
Furthermore, when all players put their bets on the table and make a pot, each participant gets five cards. After the dealing is done, the action starts — players focus on the cards they’re holding and decide what combination of cards they want to chase in this round. Then, they replace up to three unwanted cards, hoping that they will improve their hand.
And once the players make this decision, they show the dealer how many cards they need, and the dealer gives them fresh ones from the playing deck. The players can ask for up to three cards, or four if they are holding an ace or a wild card.
After that, the players are ready to start betting. There are various ways in which you can bet in poker, depending on the playstyle you prefer. You can choose to check (do nothing and pass priority to the next player), call (match another player’s bet), or raise (place a bet that other players either have to match or fold).
However, if you don’t like what you see and you think you can’t improve your hand, you will fold, forfeiting the round. After all the betting rounds are done, the remaining players face off at the final phase of the game — showdown. In it, they reveal their cards, and the one with the strongest hand wins the pot.
Community Card Games
These are versions of the classic poker game that are wildly popular among poker lovers nowadays. These variations got their name by the cards that stay face up on the poker table during the whole round, which all players can use to complete their winning hands. Texas Hold’em is certainly one of the favorite poker versions, and I’ll use it to illustrate the differences between community card poker games and the classical poker variant.
First of all, the initial bets are different in this game. Here, only two players have to bet some money to make a pot. The position at the table plays a crucial part in determining who will be placing the Big and Small Blinds. For example, if you sit beside the dealer on his left side, you are going to be the one placing the Small Blind, while the person sitting left from you will do the same with the Big Blind.
Another important thing to note is that the Big Blind is twice as big as the Small Blind. In other words, if the latter is, for example, $5, then the latter will be $10.
At the beginning of the game, players get two cards from the dealer that only they can see, which are also known as hole cards. After that, the “pre-flop” betting follows, where players have to either stay in the game or fold depending on the potential of the cards they’ve been dealt. If they stay in the game, they add their bets to the pot. And after they finish betting, the dealer deals three cards in the center of the poker table that every player can see, the so-called flop. Anyone can use these cards in order to make a competitive hand.
From then on, the betting rounds take turns with the dealing rounds in which the dealer adds two additional cards to the field (one by one), making it easier for players to form a winning combination. The final round is for the last players standing at the poker table, and this is the showdown, where players show their hands to each other. The one with the best card combination takes the whole pot.
Furthermore, there are also stud poker games — another popular poker variation. Stud games are different from community card games because, in them, there are no community cards, only hole cards. 7-Card Stud is one of the favorites. Here, each player gets seven cards in total over a couple of betting rounds, four of which are revealed to other players as well, and they have to make the best possible hand using only them.
Now that we’ve cleared out the basic things related to poker, we can turn to the next burning question — Is poker a game of strategy or a game of nerves?
Strategy or Psychology?
There has been a long-lasting debate going on when it comes to which factors decide the outcome of a poker game. While many players think that devising a well-thought-out strategy and continually working on your poker playing skills is the key to victory, others base their gameplay on psychological tricks.
However, the best winning method is somewhere in between. Working hard on your poker skills and improving them by studying various strategies and other players’ gameplay is an essential factor that makes a poker player great. On the other hand, numerous players and poker lovers work on their bluffing skills so that they can trick other players into folding early, even if it turns out that they held a stronger hand in the end. Whichever way of playing you choose, here are some tips that will help you win the pot:
- Always choose a poker game that best suits your skills, as well as your bankroll. It would be awkward to enter a high-roller game that has no betting limits with a modest bankroll, only to prove you can swim with sharks. If you want to win at poker, you have to leave your ego out of the game.
- Try to keep it cool and stick to the strategy you devised before the game started.
- Put some versatility into your game. People who only play tight and never raise bets will stay empty-handed in the long term because other players will be able to read their plays easily. Try to adjust your betting style to your current hand, and even give bluffing a shot from time to time to try and make your rivals fold.
- Don’t sit at a poker table if you are tired, stressed, or drunk. Poker is a game that requires fast thinking and a clear head. If you feel that you’re starting to tilt, skip a couple of hands until you get your poker playing mood back.