The difference between poker and every other casino game is that poker is not played against the other - it is played against other players.
Although the basics of the game are simple - examining your hand and guessing what the other players may have - playing the game well (winning) can involve complex strategies and psychological ploys.
There are myriad versions of poker but the basic hierarchy of winning hands is the same:
- Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J and 10 of the same suit.
- Straight Flush: Five cards, all of the same suit and in sequence. For example, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5 of hearts.
- Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank. For example, four tens, four aces, etc. The other card or cards do not count.
- Full House: Three cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank. For example, three jacks and two fives or three sevens and two threes, etc.
- Flush: Five cards of the same suit in no particular order. For example, five hearts, five clubs, five spades, five diamonds.
- Straight: Five cards in sequence regardless of suit. For example, 7, 8, 9, 10 and Jack or 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
- Three of a Kind: Any three cards of the same rank. For example, three fives, three jacks, three aces, etc.
- Two Pair: Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank with one remaining card. For example, 8-8, 5-5 and 9 or JJ, 6-6 and A, etc.
- One Pair: Two cards of the sane rank and three remaining unmatched cards. For example, KK, 3, 9, Q or 7-7, 5, 10, A, etc.
Some Poker Games:
Five card draw or traditional poker: Each player is dealt five cards and depending upon the rules of a particular game, can exchange up to four of the originally deal cards for new ones. After that, the player must stick with the new hand for the rest of the game, either betting, calling or folding.
In seven card stud, players are each deal three cards down and one card face up, followed by the first round of betting, the "bring in". The first bet is placed by the player with either the highest or lowest face up card, depending on the rules of that particular game. After the first bet, following bets are always made by the player with the highest showing hand.
The fifth and sixth cards are dealt face up and the player with the highest showing hand makes a bet after the fifth card. Again, the player with the highest showing hand after the sixth face up card is dealt has the option to bet. If that player decides to call, the next highest hand player can take up the option to bet or call - and so on down the line. Each time a bet is placed, any player in turn has the option to call, raise or fold.
The seventh and final card is deal face down and initiates another round of calling, betting, raising or folding. Dealing and betting, calling, etc. is done clockwise around the table.
Once all best have been called, the hand is over. Players turn over the face down cards and the best hand wins the bet.