The Game Known as Poker
What once started as a recreational activity in the basements of friends’ houses, has now become one of the most competitive international games world-wide, with players winning (and losing) up to millions of dollars from live tournaments as well as online on portals specifically designed just for Poker. To some, this is their only form of income.
Poker is one of the many types of card games played using a 52-card deck in Casinos because it is a combination of elements of strategy and gambling. The general consensus is that it is a game of chance, but skills and knowledge play a big part too. All poker variations involve gambling or betting as a fundamental fragment of play. In order to win a game of Poker, a player needs to have a certain ‘hand’ i.e. the highest of the 10 different hands played in the game on their cards. Betting is the main aim of the game and winning money is the prize.
There are many variants of the game, however the more popular ones played in Casinos are Texas Hold ‘Em, and its two variations – Pineapple and Crazy Pineapple and Seven Card Stud.
The Rules of The Game
In most contemporary poker games, the initial or starting round begins with betting, called a ‘blind’ (or ante). If you believe your hand is worth a higher rank than everyone else, you bet a higher amount and vice versa, or sometimes players can bluff too by doing the opposite – bet low when stakes are high or vice versa.
Once that’s done the next person proceeds clockwise until everyone has had a turn. They don’t necessarily have to bet, they can also:
- Call – matching the maximum previous bet
- Raise – raising the bet amount on the table
- Fold – losing their cards and any money betted so far and you get dealt a new hand.
Once all players have ‘folded’ or ‘called’ the last bet, the round ends. If everyone folds except for one player, he gets the winnings, and does not need to show his cards. But if there are 2 players that did not fold, this is called a ‘show-down’, which means the players need to reveal their cards and the individual with the highest ranked cards gets to keep the winnings.
On the other hand, if one of the players makes a bet and none of the opponents choose to ‘call’ i.e. matches the bet, and all the players fold their cards, then that’s the end of the round, all cards are taken and news ones are dealt.
Only on the first round are bets to be made towards the pot, after this it is up to the player to bet or not, depending on the hand (cards) he/she has. Even though the game is one of chance, the end result is determined by game theory (and practice), probability and psychology.
The Different Poker Hand Rankings
Hand rankings are basically a setting of five cards that players usually have at all times in their ‘pocket’. The hierarchy is: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 and according to statistics there are almost 311,875,200 combinations to deal a hand of five cards.
There are 9 different categories of hands in any Poker Game from the strongest hand to the weakest one. Learn more about these here:
- Royal Flush – The strongest hand i.e. it cannot be beaten by any opponent. The hand comprises of an ace, king, queen, jack and ten all of a similar suit.
- Straight flush – This is when Five of your cards are in a sequence, but of the same suit. So, for example 5,6,7,8,9 all of cloves.
- Four of a kind – Here only Four of your cards need to be of the same rank, and the fifth one, called the ‘kicker’. To win, your kicker needs to be higher than any other players card.
- Full house – to win you must have at least three cards of the same rank for example ‘K, K, K’, and two cards of a different, matching rank for example ’10,10’. The player with the highest of the three matching cards wins.
- Flush – When you have five cards of the same suit like Q,8,6,4,3 but they are all hearts or cloves. These don’t necessarily need to be in sequence but they must be from the same suit. Highest ranked cards win.
- Straight – opposite of the flush, as all five cards need be in sequence of numbers but not necessarily suits.
- Three of a kind – If you have three cards from the same rank i.e. ‘J, J, J’ and the other two don’t need to match those. The highest ‘kicker’ wins.
- Two pair – Two identical cards of a matching rank, so ‘6,6’ or ’10,10’ but not from the same suit.
- Pair – If two cards are from a matching rank but the other three aren’t. For example, ‘A’ from a heart and ‘A’ from cloves.
- High card – If a player has a high-card in their hand, like an ‘ace’ or ‘king’ and all the other opponents have weaker cards, then you win.
Playing Poker Online
As mentioned above, this game has also become popular online. With people playing against each other and from all the different countries. Computer programs have been designed to play the game against either human opponents or against a ‘poker bot’ or ‘bot’.
Although popular poker sites’ terms and conditions of poker generally forbid the use of these bots, it would depend on the site’s operator. Some countries do not allow this game to be played online or elsewhere altogether, particularly these five countries: Japan, Israel, Singapore, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and North Korea. And in other countries like Sweden there is a whole other category of online gaming. Visit sites like casinoutanspelpauslicens.se as there are online gambling sites that are not licenced.
However, with this option available, the demand for poker players has grown tremendously and as such so has revenue generated from it. One online source stating that from a revenue of $82.7 million in 2001 it grew to $2.4 billion in 2005. That’s one in every 4 dollars, that is being gambled on online platforms like these.