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How to play poker
Poker is a game of skill, with many card games you rely totally on the luck of the draw, find out all you need to know about the poker game

How to play poker

The game of poker is played in hundreds of variations, but the following overview of game play applies to most of them.

Depending on the game rules, one or more players may be required to place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt. These are called forced bets and come in two forms: antes and blinds.

The dealer shuffles the deck, then the deck is cut, and the appropriate number of cards are dealt face-down to the players. In a land-based casino a "house" dealer handles the cards for each hand, but a button is rotated among the players to determine the order of dealing and betting in certain games.

After the initial deal, the first of what may be several betting rounds begins. Between rounds, the players’ hands develop in some way, often by being dealt additional cards or replacing cards previously dealt. During a round of betting, there will always be a current bet amount, which is the total amount of money bet in this round by the player who bet last in this round. To keep better track of this, it is conventional for players to not place their bets directly into the pot (called splashing the pot), but rather place them in front of themselves toward the pot, until the betting round is over. When the round is over, the bets are then gathered into the pot.

After the first betting round is completed (every participating player having called an equal amount), there may be more rounds in which more cards are dealt in various ways, followed by further rounds of betting (into the same central pot). At any time during the first or subsequent betting rounds, if one player makes a bet and all other players fold, the deal ends immediately, the single remaining player is awarded the pot, no cards are shown, no more rounds are dealt, and the next deal begins.

At the end of the last betting round, if more than one player remains, there is a showdown in which the players reveal their previously hidden cards and evaluate their hands. The player with the best hand wins the pot.

Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 playing cards. The cards are ranked from high to low in the following order: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Aces are ALWAYS high. Aces are worth more than Kings and so on. The cards are also separated into four suits.

The suits are:
Clubs, Spades, Hearts, Diamonds

The object of the game is to end up with the highest-valued hand. From best to worst, hands are ranked in the following order:

Royal Flush - This hand is 5 cards in order and of the same suit and is Ace high, so contains (10-J-Q-K-A)

Straight Flush - This is the best hand possible, unless you are using wild cards. This is 5 cards in order and entirely the same suit. A straight flush which has an Ace high is called a Royal Flush.

Four of a Kind - This hand has 4 cards of the same type (example 4 Aces) and one different card. If there is more than one player with 4 of a kind then the highest 4 of a kind wins.

Full House - This hand consists of a 3 of a kind and a pair in the same hand. Ties are broken by the 3 of a kind first and then the pair.

Flush - A flush is a hand where all of the cards are the same suit (example 2,4,7,Q,K of spades). If there is more than one player with a flush, the high card rule is followed.

Straight - A straight is 5 cards in order such as 6-7-8-9-10. An ace may be counted as either high (after a king) or low (before a 2). A straight may now wrap though (Q-K-A-2-3).

Three of a Kind - 3 matching cards of any type along with 2 cards that are not a pair.

Two Pairs - If the hand has 2 different pairs of cards and a 5 different card. If more than 1 player has two pairs then the highest pair wins, if the highest pair is the same, then the lowest pair wins.

Pair - If the hand has 2 cards of the same type (ex 2 Jacks) and the other 3 cards are unique.

High Card - If the hand doesn’t have a pair of matching cards or better then the highest card is used. High card is also used to break a tie when players have the same type of hand (ex. one pair).