How to Play Poker
No-Limit Hold ’em, often called “Texas Hold ’em” is the most popular poker game across the globe. It uses a standard 52-card deck. Anywhere from 2-10 players at a single table can take part in the game.
A basic poker game begins when the dealer deals each player two cards, starting with the player to the left of the dealer and ending on the dealer. The player dealt first, the one to the left of the dealer, goes first. He can decide to bet or check. If he goes for the bet, he can bet any amount he wants as long as it’s the same or higher than the big blind. And if he checks, he basically does nothing.
If any of the other players decide to bet, then the rest of the players can:
- Call – Match the amount of the raise into the pot
- Fold – Give up their hand as well as all the chips they put into the pot
- Raise – Put even more chips in the pot
The betting round goes on until everyone has called or all the chips are the pot. When the first round of betting is finished, the dealer deals three cards face-up. Those three cards are community cards that anyone can use. It’s called “the flop.”
Every player that is still live in the game gets an opportunity to bet, raise, or fold. Once the additional betting round is finished, the dealer places a fourth card on the table that anyone can use, called “the turn.”
Again, everyone has an opportunity to bet, check, raise, or fold. The dealer then places the fifth card on the board that anyone can use, called “the river.” Then, everyone gets one last opportunity to bet, check, raise, or fold.
If there is still more than one player left in the game, the cards of each players’ final hand are shown, and the player with the highest-ranked hand wins the pot.
Poker Rake Explained
Poker rake is the fee charged by the online poker or live poker room. The rake is what generates revenue for the casino. The type of rake varies by casino, so it’s essential to do a bit of research before jumping into a poker game. Our guide here provides useful information about online casinos, so you can avoid being blindsided by rules and fees. But before you pick a casino to play in, learn more about the different types of poker rake.
The Pot Rake
For cash games, a small amount will be removed from the pot by the dealer, when a hand is completed. How this is done varies by poker network, but typically, a rake isn’t taken from the pot unless the hand makes it to the flop. In most cases, this type of pot rake in between 5% and 10% of the total pot.
Some casinos use what is called a “dead drop” to make sure everyone pays the same rake. With a dead drop, the player on the dealer button pays an agreed fixed rake to the dealer before the hand is dealt.
Instead of a pot rake or a dead drop, brick and mortar casinos will do a timed collection. With this technique, a set amount of rake is collected at set intervals, for example, every 60 minutes from all the players. This alternative is less common but still utilized by some casinos across the globe.
Some casinos might opt for a fixed fee, rather than having to calculate 5% to 10% of the pot every hand. With a fixed fee, the casino will take a set free from each pot. Fixed fees are more common games with higher stakes.
Online poker players will naturally face a tournament fee. The average tournament fee is 10% of the tournament buy-in. The tournament fee typically covers the cost of the dealer, the tournament refers, chips, and other general expenses related to the tournament.
Online cardrooms will sometimes charge a monthly subscription fee instead of raking individual pots or tournaments.
Especially in recent years, many online poker sites and online casinos have gone “rake free.” By advertising their “rake free” poker rooms, they can increase traffic to their online casino, therefore generating revenue.
Other sites are only rake-free for frequent players, as part of a rewards program. Unfortunately, rake-free poker rooms are uncommon because they are hard to sustain. If you are lucky enough to live in a country that allows a wide selection of online casinos, it’s worth it to find out which ones offer rake-free poker rooms. Take the time to explore more online casinos if you live in New Zealand, Canada, or the UK, to find out just how much a game of poker will cost you.
Dead Man’s Hand
The famous, or perhaps infamous, Dead Man’s Hand is a nickname given to a particular poker hand, particularly one that contains a two-pair of black aces and black eights. It has been widely reported that Wild Bill Hickock, an Old West folk hero, and gunfighter, held this hand when he was murdered.
It was Frank Wilstach’s book Wild Bill Hickok: The Prince of Pistoleers published in 1926 that led to what modern society knows as the Dead Man’s Hand: pairs of black aces and black eights with an unknown hole card.
Poker Hand Rankings
While the Dead Man’s Hand is a well-known hand in the world of poker, if there is anything a poker player should know, it’s then ten poker hands.
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- High Card
1. Royal Flush
The Royal Flush is the best possible hand in poker. There isn’t another poker hand that can beat a Royal Flush. A Royal Flush is a poker hand that consists of the royal cards; Ace, King, Queen, and Jack, along with a ten, all of which need to be the same suit.
Statistically, the Royal Flush is an anomaly. The odds are nearly 650,000 to 1, against holding a Royal Flush. That said, it does happen.
2. Straight Flush
A Straight Flush is ranked second among all poker hands. The Straight Flush consists of five cards in sequential order, all of the same suit – for example, 10-9-8-7-6, all Spades.
3. Four of a Kind
A Four of a Kind consists of four cards, all of the same rank, but not in the same suit. If two players have a Four of a Kind, the one with the higher set of four cards ranks higher.
4. Full House
A Full House is when your hand consists of three cards of the same rank, plus a pair of cards of another rank – for example, 8-8-8-4-4 or 10-10-10-3-3. The ‘Set’ is the most important part of the Full House, but when two players have an equally-ranked ‘Three of a Kind’ the highest-ranked pair wins.
To make a Flush, you have to have five cards of the same suit, but they don’t have to be in consecutive order. If another player also has a Flush, the player with the highest card is the winner.
A Straight is when you have five cards in a sequence, for example, J-10-9-8-7, but from a mixture of suits. The Straight is the only hand where the Ace is the lowest possible card and also the highest possible card within a hand. A Straight of Ten-Jack-Queen-King-Ace is called “Broadway,” and a Straight of Ace-2-3-4-5 is called “The Wheel.”
7. Three of a Kind
If you have any three cards of the same rank, you have Three of a Kind. While it’s certainly not the best hand in poker, it’s a relatively strong hand depending on your competition. Three of a Kind ranks higher than Two Pair because it is statistically harder to make three of a kind in a hand than it is to make two pairs.
8. Two Pair
When your hand contains two separate pairs of different ranks, you have Two Pair. If two players have Two Pairs, the player who has a hand with the highest pair wins.
A pair is one of the most common hands in poker. A pair is when you have two cards of the same rank. The higher your pair, the stronger your position.
10. High Card
If no one at the table has made a hand, the person holding the highest card wins. The cards have to be of all different ranks, non-consecutive and contain at least two different suits for the High Card to apply.
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