Playing Poker – Rules and Terminology:
If you are going to be playing by the accepted playing poker rules then you must be familiar with the ranking of hands in poker. If you play in a home game and are required to ‘declare’ your hand then you want to make sure you know what the best use of your cards is. Sometimes a player is so focused on making a straight that they don’t realize that while they missed it, they did make a flush. You can be sure that the pros know exactly what they have, and based on the card they see what the other could have.
In addition to knowing that it is also a good idea to be familiar with the basic rules of poker and terminology.
Since Hold’em is the most popular version of poker now I have also included those for you.
First however let’s start with the ranking of poker hands, which applies to all forms of poker. From highest to lowest they are:
• Royal Straight Flush (10 -J-Q-K-A, all the same suit)
• Straight Flush (5 same suit running cards, ex. 2-3-4-5-6 of Hearts)
• Four of a Kind (4 cards of the same value, ex. J-J-J-J-9)
• Full House (3 of a kind plus 2 of a kind, ex. 8-8-8-J-J)
• Flush (five cards of the same suit)
• Straight (five running cards not of the same suit)
• Three of a Kind (3 cards of the same value, ex. K-K-K)
• Two Pair (4 cards with two sets of pairs, ex. 5-5-Q-Q)
• One Pair (2 cards with the same value, ex. A-A)
• High Card (the highest value card possessed by a player)
Hold’em is a game where each player first receives two cards face down (hole cards). After a round of betting where each player must match the bet or fold (drop out of the hand). Then three cards are placed on the table face up (The Flop). After another betting round a 4th card is placed face up on the table (The Turn or 4th street). Then another betting round and then the 5th and final card is placed face up on the table (The River or 5th street). After all five community cards are face up on the table, a final round of betting takes place. Players left in the hand show their two hole cards, and the player who has the five-card combination with the highest poker hand ranking wins the hand.
Texas Hold’em has required bets called Blinds. Betting goes clockwise and starts with the player to the left of the ‘button’. The ‘button’ rotates around the table so each player is the ‘dealer’ and so each will also be required to make a big and small blind bets. The player to the left of the ‘button’ places a bet called the small blind and the player to the left of this player places a larger bet called the big blind. The value of the blinds is set beforehand. At a $20 table the small blind is $10 and the big blind $20.
The first round of betting (when all players only have two face-down cards) requires a bet equal or greater than the big blind to stay in the hand. Betting following The Flop also requires a bet equal to or greater than the big blind. The last two rounds of betting (after the 4th and 5th face up cards) require a bet at least equal to twice the big blind.
The following are some basic terms used in Texas Hold’em. Many of these have found their way into our daily lives and lexicon:
• Hole Cards – Two cards dealt face down
• The Flop – The next three cards placed face up
• The Turn – A 4th card placed face up
• The River – The 5th card placed face
• Pot – All the money bet during play of a hand
• Bet – To place a wager in the pot
• Check – To pass on betting when nobody has bet before you
• Call – To match another player’s bet to stay in the hand
• Raise – To Increase the bet other players must pay
• Pot Odds – Compute if it is profitable to bet
• Rags – A poor hand
• Bluffing – Raising to get players to fold when you have a poor hand
• Bad Beat – Losing to a better hand when you have a great hand
Before you begin playing poker chips, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the hand ranking and pot odds (chance of drawing a hand). It’s a lot of fun playing poker. Rules make it interesting, but not difficult. Knowing your chances of winning will make betting decisions easier, so next I would get to know more about pot odds and what good starting cards are.