How to play poker

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How to play
Game variations
Hand rankings
Poker Glossary
Brief history
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7 Card Stud

Poker Probabilities
Pre-flop strategy
Post-flop strategy
Successful betting
7 Card Stud

Poker is known as "the money game", and for very good reason. The whole aim of Poker is to take the pot of bets that accumulates during a hand. The size of the pot depends on the stakes played with and the amount of action that a hand gets, but regardless of how much money is involved, the pot can be won in one of just two ways:

1) By having the best poker hand of all players in the pot at the showdown.

2) By getting all other player to fold their hands so that the pot is yours by default. This involves bluffing - pretending that you have a much better hand than you really do.

There are obviously plenty of rules to abide by in poker, but a key step is to make sure you know how poker hands are ranked by taking a look at the order of hierarchy page. When you have done that, learn about the probability of getting the hand, and you will understand that the hands with least probability of occurring are ranked higher than those that are more probable. The higher your hand ranks, the more chance you have of beating your opponents and winning the pot.

Cards are dealt by a different player (know, funnily enough, as the dealer) in each hand. The dealer deals in a clockwise direction, starting with the player on their immediate left. When all cards have been dealt to the players, a round of betting begins. You can check (bet nothing but continue in the hand), call (match a bet previousl made by an opponent), raise (match a previous bet and bet more in addition) or fold (refusing to match a bet and eliminating yourself from the rest of the hand, whilst leaving any chips previousl invested in the pot for the winner.) You should note that checking is only possible when no other player have bet before you.

The staking structure of a poker table determines how much you need to bet. For example, at a £1/£2 table, you will only be able to bet in £1 increments until one player shows a pair or until all players have had a chance to bet once or twice, depending on the rules of the specific casino you play in. After that point, betting at a £1/£2 table would take place in £2 increments.

In poker, players are competing against each other, and not against the casino itself as they do in Blackjack or Roulette. In order to make a profit, the casino take a "rake" from each hand. This is a fixed percentage of the pot, but maximums are set and this generally means that no more than £3 will be raked, with exact figures depending on the stakes used at the table.

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