October 6, 2017
Poker has shot to the pinnacle of the card gaming world since the turn of the 21st Century and has become the real in vogue game for enthusiasts and professional gamblers alike.
According to most historians, Poker derived from a mixture of card games just before the turn of the 18th Century in the Deep South area of the United States. It then spread across the continent firstly during the California gold rush in the mid 1800’s, and about 10 years later during the American Civil War.
In 1871, Poker found itself on the shores of Europe after Queen Victoria became fascinated by the game following a meeting with the US Minister to Great Britain. The game mellowed on the continent for 40 years before taking off exorbitantly thanks to the influence of the American soldiers during World War I.
Meanwhile, in America, the game was growing and growing. What made poker so popular was that, unlike most traditional casino table games, poker was played against other players rather than against the casino itself, and people soon started to realise that it could be very profitable for intelligent and skilled players.
By the 1970’s poker had become so big that the ‘World Series of Poker’ was created which really turned this simple game of cards into a fully-fledged sport. These days the World Series of Poker is the game’s leading annual competition and fetches just under €10,000,000 for the winner – all of which is televised on ESPN in the USA and around the world on a number of broadcasters.
Poker is probably the best game in the gambling arena for those looking to really make some money. Unlike other games like roulette, baccarat and blackjack, poker requires a lot of skill, strategy and wit.
The most popular poker version played today is Texas Hold ‘Em which originated in the 1920’s. It’s a tactical and complex game which requires many studious years to truly master, but the initial premise of the game is fairly straightforward to understand. We’ll first explain the format of the game, then we’ll explain the ranking of hands:
To begin, all the players are dealt two cards face down by the dealer. In most poker games, the player to the left of the dealer then must play a ‘small blind’ (a forced bet) while the player two places to the left of the dealer has to play a ‘big blind’. The blinds are different in different games but the small blind is often half that of the big blind.
The players who haven’t played a blind then have a choice whether to bet or not. A ‘call’ would match the amount of the big blind, a ‘raise’ would increase that of the big blind, and a ‘fold’ would mean the abandonment of the hand and a retreat from the round. The money bet by each player must always be equal before the next round takes place (this applies to every round).
So long as two or more people have called, the ‘flop’ will then be delivered. The flop consists of three cards from the deck being placed face up on the table. The player to the left of the dealer then has the choice whether to ‘check’ (allow the next player to act without placing a bet), ‘bet’ (initially increase the size of the pot), ‘fold’, ‘call’ or ‘raise’.
The next round is the ‘turn’ where one more card is placed onto the table and the same betting process is undergone. The final round is the ‘river’ which is again followed by a round of betting.
If there are still two or more players left in the game then it comes down to the final round, the ‘showdown’. A player can win the hand by either: having the best-ranking hand at showdown, or every player folding before showdown.
A winning hand is decided by the ‘ranking’ of your hand compared to the other players. If players have the same ranking hands the plot is split. Below you’ll find the rankings of every possible hand in Poker:
This hand beats them all and is the holy grail of poker, consisting of 10, J, Q, K, and A all in the same suit.
Five consecutive cards of the same suit in a sequence is known as a straight flush. A royal flush is the best hand in the game and goes from ten up to the ace. If both players have straight flushes, the highest sequence wins the pot.
Four of a kind is four cards of the same value. In the event that two players both have four of a kind, the higher value hand wins. For example, 2222 is the lowest four of a kind you can have, while AAAA is the highest.
A full house is three cards of the same value, and two cards of the same value. The highest three matching cards win if two or more players hold a full house – 88877 beats 77799. In games where players have same three matching cards, the rank of the remaining two matching cards breaks the tie.
Five cards of any rank in the same suit. The flush containing the highest ranked card wins the hand. An Ace-High flush beats a King-High flush.
Five cards in sequence (any suit). If two straights are competing for the pot, the hand containing the highest ranking card will win. A 56789 straight beats a 45678 straight.
Three cards of the same rank. If two or more players have three of a kind (trips) the highest value three of a kind will win the hand. For example, 888 will beat 777.
Two pairs of same rank cards. If two or more players have two pairs, the highest value pair will win the hand. For example, AA22 will beat KKQQ. The second pair comes into play if the highest ranked pair is identical, i.e. AA77 beats AA66. If both pairs are identical the remaining card – the ‘kicker’ – is the tiebreaker.
Two matched cards of any suit and three side cards. The highest-ranked pair wins. If players have the same pair, the player with the best kicker wins the pot. For example player A has AK and player B has AQ. The board is AJ245. Player A has one pair AAKJ4, while player B has AAQJ4. Player A has a K kicker, which beats player B Q kicker and is awarded the pot.
High card counts when a player fails to make a pair or better. The highest ranking card either in their hand or on the board is what they play at showdown.
Will has been a part of the nitty-gritty world of gambling for over 10 years now in one shape or another, and though he mainly works in the background at Casino Circle, his vast experience and insight is always fascinating to read and listen to.
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