It's Friday night, and you and your friends are looking for something to do. Why not have a night in and play some good ol' poker? But you don't know how to play poker? Well, you've come to the right place then. It's easy, fun, and often times, very profitable. Read on to see what I mean, and don't forget the chips and dip.
If you're looking for something to do, have a night in and get ready to gamble.
You'll need a deck of 52 playing cards, some snacks, some refreshing drinks, and your piggy bank. Usually, five players is a safe number to have.
Poker doesn't have to be played for stakes, but if you're hitting a casino or your friends are all into the money, it's good to know when to bet and when to fold.
There are some variations to these rules. For instance, you can decide beforehand how many times you can discard and draw new cards, or the number of cards you can discard each time.
- Set a betting limit. This ensures that ridiculous sums of money aren't lost in one hand.
- Set the ante. This is the minimum bet that each player must put in the pot. This guarantees winnings on each bet and that you're not the only one putting money in.
- The dealer deals each card face down, starting from the left and moving in a clockwise manner. Each player receives one card as the dealer moves around the table. The dealer always deals him/herself last.
- The first player, usually the one to the left of the dealer, starts the betting. (On the second hand, the player second to the left of the dealer will start, and so forth.)
- There are now two options: when your turn comes, and no one has placed a bet yet, you can OPEN the pot by making the first bet, or you can CHECK by declining to open but signaling that you still want to be in the game.
- After the betting is opened, you can SEE the bet by matching it, SEE and RAISE by matching the bet and upping the ante, or FOLD by giving up and losing whatever you've put in the pot.
- The players who haven't folded can DISCARD up to three cards and DRAW three new ones. All these cards are discarded and drawn face down.
- Betting begins again; players have the option of opening or checking, and then seeing, raising, or folding. The only way to stay in the game is to not fold.
- When there are no more raises or everyone's folded, the hand comes to an end. Players reveal their cards, and the highest hand wins. The winner collects his/her earnings.
Now that you know how to bet, you'll need to know what you need to beat everyone else.
Each card is worth its numerical value, and is ordered from Ace (the highest card) to 2 (the lowest card). Suits are of equal value. The object of the game is to get the highest hand. In the event of a tie, i.e. both you and someone else have a pair, the highest card always wins.
From best to worst hands:
- Royal Flush: 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace, all of the same suit.
- Straight Flush: Five cards in numerical order, all of the same suit. The order cannot wrap, i.e. you can't have a Queen, King, Ace, 2, 3 but you can have a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same numerical rank and one random card.
- Full House: Three of the same numerical rank and two of the same numerical rank.
- Flush: Five cards with the same suit, the value does not matter.
- Straight: Five cards in numerical order. Very much like a straight flush, but the cards do not have to be of the same suit.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same numerical rank and two random cards.
- Two Pair: Two sets of pairs and one random card.
- One Pair: One pair and three random cards.
- High Card: No hand. In this case, the hand with the highest valued card wins.
Let's take it up a notch and throw some fun poker words into the mix.
Action: The amount of betting at a given table. Players have been known to leave if the action is lacking at the table.
Aggressive Play: Betting high early. This scare tactic can work much like bluffing to scare other players, but if it backfires, you can lose a lot of money or win none at all if everyone folds.
Bluff: Pretending to have better cards than you really do. This is done to scare other players into folding.
Conservative Play: Betting the minimum and/or quickly folding. If you play too cautiously, you can run the risk of alerting other players of your good hands when you suddenly bet high.
Tell: The subconscious mannerisms that you exhibit when you're lying. It's a dead giveaway of bluffing. A good player will take notice of other people's tells and reveal none of theirs.
Now that you've mastered the art of poker, here are some other games you can try out.
5 Card Stud / 7 Card Stud
5 Card Stud is played much like poker, but there is no option of trading cards. In 7 Card Stud, seven cards are dealt. The first two cards are placed face down, the third to sixth face up, and the last face down. Each time a card is dealt, there's a round of betting. The player with the best five-card combination wins.
Hold-em (a.k.a. Texas Hold-em)
In this game, each player only holds two cards, while the rest are "communal," meaning that they're shared with the other players. Each player receives two cards, called the pocket cards, face down. A round of betting ensues. Three cards and then dealt face up in the middle of the table. These cards are flops, and are to be used by all the players. Another round of betting, and then another two cards are placed in the flop. The object of the game is to make the best 5-card hand from the two pocket cards any three cards from the flop.
In Lowball, the object of the game is to win with the lowest possible hand. The best hand to have in this game is 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 of varied suits.
Remember to bet responsibly, and that there's no shame in folding if you're unsure of your hand. Good luck, and happy card playing! ¤ C.Ho.