Cutting the Deck: How Poker Really Works

It is often said that the best poker players are those who know when to take risk and when to hold their chips close. Professional poker players who win sometimes millions of dollars at the poker tables don’t win just because they are lucky; over the long-run poker is exclusively a skill game.

Build your poker game like you’d build a building

A game of poker is like a building; if the foundation of the building is laid strong then the building will be the strongest. To build a strong foundation the players must know all the basics of the game. Of course, the game is not all about rules and regulations. US players are more than aware of that, which this resource does an excellent job of explaining:

Every player at the table adds his own individual signature to the game, which makes it more interesting. But you need to know the basics of the game before you can embellish your game with your own personal touch. Let’s dive into those right now.

Discipline: The Necessary Foundation

The most important factor when you are learning to play is a solid strategy and discipline. Unless you have an almost Picasso-like inexplicable talent to play the game, or you are one of those born geniuses who knew the game rules since birth and became the youngest poker champion, you need to learn the rules.

You must also realize that you won’t be able to learn the game overnight. You must have the patience and discipline to learn the game one at a time. You must take to the learning like a once-a-day artist; only then the foundation of the poker will be built strongly in your mind and you will be able to win consistently.

The Primary Objective of Poker

Winning the pot is the primary and the only objective of playing poker. A pot is where all the players place their bets during various hands of the game.  A player places the bet either hoping that he has the best hand or to bluff that he has the best hand. In case he’s bluffing he’s aiming to make all the other players to fold and abandon the game so that the pot is his.

The most important part of the betting game is that you should know when to bet on your hand and when to fold because the saved money is equally valuable as the won money.

The Deck and the Number of Players

Poker is most commonly played with a 52 card deck and sometimes the joker is used as a bug or a wild card to fill the absent card. Poker can be played by a number of players ranging from two to ten. Professional casinos line their Texas hold’em tables for eight to ten players.

Using Poker Chips

Poker chips are the only currency which is accepted at the poker tables. People who don’t have poker chips handy also use peanuts or pennies as currency but they cannot beat the feeling of playing with chips. Poker chips are available in wide range of colors and materials. The best and the most expensive chips are made up of composite and clay and the cheapest ones are made up of plastic.

The Basic Rules of Poker

I’ll be explaining Texas Hold’em as that has been the most popular form of poker over the past two decades. At the beginning of the game every player is dealt two cards. They are called “hole cards” or “the starting hand. This stage is known as pre-flop as the next round is known as the flop. During pre-flop, you can bet, check or fold on the basis of these hold cards.

The Flop Community Cards

In Texas Hold’em, when all the players have either bet, fold or check, three cards are dealt face up in the middle of the table. This is known as the flop. Another round of betting continues where the players bet, check or fold based on the combination of two hole cards and three face up cards.

The Turn

The third round is called the Turn which begins with the dealing of another shared card on the table making four shared cards. Another round of betting starts after this in which the remaining players bet, fold or check.

The River

The final round called The River starts when the dealer deals the fifth shared card. During this final round, the players make their best five card hand with the two hole cards and the five shared cards on the table.

For example, if you have 5-5 in your hold and the shared cards are 5-5-A-6-7 then you have four of a kind. If the shred cards contained K-Q-7-8-10 then you will have only two fives.

The Result of Each Hand

The game of the poker may end in the following two ways:

  • The players in the final round show their hole cards and the players with the highest end wins the pot.
  • One player will bet enough that all the other players will fold and the one placing the bet will win the pot.

The player may or may not be bluffing and this is the charm of the game. You do not need to hold the best hand to win the game.