Discussions held around the history of poker are often contentious, with ‘experts’ offering differing points of view. Does the modern game have its roots in 10th century China or 17th century France where citizens played Poque? The picture becomes clearer following the introduction of the game to the southern United States in the 19th century where it grew in popularity before spreading around the world. Today poker, in all its guises, is almost certainly found in every casino that offers online gambling.
There are many variations of the game including:
- Texas Hold’em
- Seven-card Stud
- Five-card Draw
- Poker with video streaming from live casinos is becoming increasingly popular
These games can generally be played in cash game format and tournament format.
Basic Poker Rules and Betting Limits
Although rules between the different versions of the game will differ, the basic object of the game is to get the best five-card hand from the available cards. In any comparison with another hand, all five cards must be taken into account.
Poker games fall into three main categories:
- Draw Poker – The hand is hidden from other players.
- Stud Poker – The hand is a combination of hidden and exposed cards.
- Community Card Poker – Players use community cards or shared cards.
How to Play Poker
First each player is dealt two down cards before five more cards are dealt to the table. The first three of these cards, which are shared, are called the flop. The fourth card is called the turn and the final card is called the River. To finish, combine the initial cards to make the best possible hand. During the process, betting which may include small blind and big blind bets will take place.
Understanding poker hands and their ranking is important and worth taking a bit of time to get it right. Poker hands (from best to worst) are:
- Royal Flush – Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten in the same suit.
- Straight Flush – Five sequential cards, all in the same suit.
- Four of a Kind – All four cards of the same value.
- Full House – Three of a kind plus a pair.
- Flush – Any five non-sequential cards of the same suit.
- Straight – Five sequential cards, not in the same suit.
- Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same value.
- Two Pairs – Two different pairs.
- One Pair – Two cards of the same value.
- High Card – The highest card in the hand (no other potentially winning combinations)
Types of Bets Which can be Placed in Poker
Many poker casinos will use the standard bet and three raises model with minimum and maximum bets being set by the casino for each particular game.
The three predominant types of betting structures are:
- Fixed Limit
- No Limit
- Pot Limit
The range of betting options, including side bets, can seem daunting to a new player so as a starting point they should understand the terms:
- Check – To refuse the chance to open the betting.
- Bet – Players may bet if no others have bet during the current round.
- Fold – Players will forfeit their hand.
- Call – To call is to match the highest bet.
- Raise – Players may raise if others have placed a bet in the current round.
What betting actions a player can take depend on the action taken by the previous players.
Best Places to Play Poker Online
Online poker games are widely available although not every casino will offer every variant.
It’s easy to get confused by the all the ever-changing welcome bonuses and offers, so take a little time to find the one that works best for you. However, it’s about balance, as well as tempting new player offers make sure that all the other elements are in place. Look also at casino reputation, site security, customer service, 24/7 support and any loyalty programmes that might be on offer. Are there a number of deposit options available and how quickly can you withdraw your winnings? Don’t forget casino reviews from real players – they are a great way to get that all important bit of inside knowledge.
In addition the house rules are a mine of information. It’s here you will find: betting rules, etiquette and interrupted tournament policy.
Summary of Poker
Poker is a game of skill, strategy and luck so learning the basics in a non-threatening atmosphere is the wisest option. So for rookie players, perhaps more than in any other table game, finding a casino that offers a play free poker option is so important.
To be able to play for real money, many casinos require you to download their bespoke software to your PC, Android device, iPad or iPhone. It’s a straightforward process and it only takes a few minutes to complete. All that remains is to take your seat at the table, take your cards and place your first bet.