The poker phenomenon has been sweeping the nation over the last decade or so with the popular gambling game now being available across numerous outlets. The internet is partly responsible for the heightened interest, with online tournaments and competitions readily available at the click of a button. Television has also contributed with channels dedicated the game and participation amongst viewers required. With all this exposure and the pure entertainment value it delivers, poker is now commonplace in our homes as well. Typical evenings with the lads, a few beers and a handful of change are now common and the thrill of going home, even with 20p profit does wonders for the ego and work banter. The inevitable knowing of a poker player or players may leave you feeling a bit left out if you don’t know how to play the game. This article is here to help and will give you a beginners guide so that you can invite yourself next time you hear of a poker gathering amongst your peers.
Now, there are a lot of different variations of poker but here we are going to focus on Texas Hold-Em, the most popular and universal understanding of the game. The whole point of the game is to come up with the best possible 5 card combination which is made up of cards you are dealt and other cards that can be used by all players but we’ll come back to this later.
Big Blinds and Little Blinds
Before any match, a big blind and a little blind value is determined. This is basically a minimum bet that the designated holder must put into the pot (the pot is the amount of money that can be won in the match) before they receive their cards. This ensures that if everyone decides to end their participation in the match that there is still a bit of money for whoever wins the pot. The holder of the big blind and little blinds changes every match with them being passed clockwise around the table,
At the beginning of any poker match, you need to have some cards! Any amount of people, from two to ten can participate in any one match. Each person involved in the game will receive two cards (known as Hole Cards). Now you have two options, you can either bet on the hand you have been dealt or you can fold which ends your participation in that particular match. The minimum bet you can put in is equal to the value of the big blind, this known as a Call. If you feel you have a pretty good hand (or if you want to fool the other players, known as bluffing) you can raise the call value and force anybody else wishing to participate in the hand to either put more money in or fold. The only exception to this rule is for the person who has provided the big blind as, if all other players only Call, they have already matched the largest bet by putting in the big blind and so they are able to Check and continue in the hand without adding any more funds.
Once all players have performed an action in the first betting round, a second takes place after The Flop. The Flop is the revealing of three ‘Community Cards’ which are placed in the middle of the table and can be used by all the active players. You then have to combine these cards with your two Hole Cards to contribute towards the best possible 5 card combination. Once The Flop has been dealt, another round of betting ensues. So if you think you have a good hand straight away or think that it could get better then you can either Call or Raise. Of course, the big blind better can Call if no one raises the blind.
After the second round of betting has finished, a third one commences after the revelation of another Community Card called The Turn. Once this has been placed next to The Flop, the betting ensues, the same rules as all of the other previous rounds applying.
Once the third round of betting has finished, a fourth and final round will commence after the revelation of the final Community Card, the River. Now, in total you will have 7 cards available to you. The 5 Community Cards and your two Hole Cards. The winner of the pot is the individual that finishes the game with the highest ranking combination of any of the 5 cards. If the highest combination is the same for more than one player then the pot is split equally amongst the winners.