A standard deck of 52 playing cards is used with 4 different suits namely hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs. The Ace is the highest and the 2 is the lowest. In poker, all suits are equal to each other.
There are many variations of the traditional game of poker. We will review some of them in this.
The basic rules of poker
The first step to mastering poker is to learn the starting hands. These values are the same for all forms of poker (unless you are dealing with Hi Lo variants). The worst possible hand is 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and the best possible hand is an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten of the same suit (Royal Flush). The hand that is slightly better than the high card hand is a pair. A pair consists of two identical cards. See below for all starting hands ranked from strong to weak:
- Royal Flush: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten of the same suit.
- Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit.
- Four of a Kind: Four similar cards.
- Full House: Three similar cards (Trips / Sets) and a pair.
- Flush: Five cards of the same suit that do not form a street.
- Street: Five cards in sequence that are not of the same suit.
- Three of a Kind: Three similar cards.
- Two Pairs: Two pairs.
- One Pair: Two similar cards.
- High Card: Five cards without forming a poker hand. The highest card is the value. A hand with 3, 5, 10, J, A is an Ace High.
Poker in Las Vegas
How the game progresses
Texas Hold’em is played with two to ten players around a poker table. The hand begins after the dealer deals each player two cards. In the case of Pot Limit Omaha you receive four cards and in the case of Draw Poker and 7 Card Stud, for example, it is possible to receive 5 or 7 cards. Hold’em Poker lets you use your own two cards and five community cards on the table. The idea is to make the best combination of 5 cards with your own 2 cards and the 5 community cards.
The dealer first deals one card to each player and himself last if he is playing. Then a second card is dealt in the same way. All cards should be dealt face down. The two cards (also called Hole cards) are held by the player until the hand is completely dealt. Then a new round begins and the same routine takes place. The button (dealer) does move one spot to the side, passing the turn to the next player to shuffle and deal the deck.
The betting rounds
During one round you get four rounds of betting. The first betting round begins immediately after all participating players receive two cards. The action is clockwise and there are a number of possible actions: check, bet, fold, call, raise & reraise. Each player must wait their turn and make a decision based on hand strength.
Each player takes an action and then the dealer places three cards “face-up” in the middle of the poker table. This is the “flop.” They are community cards and any player may use them.
Now follows a second round of betting. Each player makes another decision and then the fourth card appears on the table, the “turn”. Another round of betting follows.
After the turn the players who are still in the game can act again. Then the fifth card face up appears on the table, the “river”. All players in the game are allowed one last action on the river. If a player places an action and no other player dares to continue playing, that player can pick up the pot without showing his hand.
In-depth articles about poker
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In poker, there are five possible actions to remember, depending on whether or not a player has already placed a bet. See below for the options that follow after someone has already placed a bet, also called the ‘opening bet’.
If you are not satisfied with your starting hand, you can fold (relinquish your cards) and no longer participate in the pot. Any money you have invested in the pot at that point will be lost. After folding a hand, move it across the line to the middle of the table. Now your hand is dead and you can’t get it back, even if you suddenly realize you’ve accidentally thrown your hand away.
- Call & raise
Would you like to stay in the hand after a bet is placed? Then you are given the option to go with it (call) or raise the bet (raise). If you call, you must place the same bet as your opponent has placed at that time. However, if you think you have a stronger hand, you can also raise. The original betting player must now forcibly put down the same amount as you in order to stay in the hand.
If you choose the raise option, the original player has the option to reraise. In this case, you have to match that amount again in order to join the hand. Most poker venues limit this type of bet to a certain limit, usually at three or four raises.
Some poker variants
You have many poker varieties and Texas Hold’em is the most popular of them all. Below is a brief explanation of some of the poker variants you will encounter:
In Texas Hold’em, you play with a deck of 52 playing cards and two cards are dealt to each participating player. A total of 5 community cards come to the table in 3 phases. Each player may use these 5 cards to make the best combination of 5 cards together with their 2 personal cards. The player with the best 5 cards at the end of a round wins the pot. At the top of this article you will find all starting hands ranked from good to bad. In total, players may use seven cards to form this combination of five best cards. Two cards in their own hands and five community cards on the table.
Omaha Poker is based on the Texas Hold’em version of poker. The same hand values apply, the only difference being that you now receive four cards instead of two from the dealer. Five cards again appear on the table (community cards) which each player at the table may use. In Omaha, a combination still consists of 5 cards in total. Players are required to use exactly 2 cards of their own 4 and 3 of the 5 community cards.
Stud Poker is not comparable to Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker. With this poker type, you don’t use community cards. You receive seven cards in this poker game with which you must make a 5-card hand. There are a total of seven rounds of betting and the blinds also work differently.
At the beginning, all players place an “ante. Then each player receives three cards – two of which are face down and one of which is face up. The player with the lowest value is required to place a ‘bring-in’. Now a new card is laid face up (fourth card) and the player with the highest card has the first move. The actions during a betting round vary by Stud variant.
Common actions are “call” or “bet”. After all players have acted, a fifth card is revealed. Again, the player with the highest card must begin the betting round. The sixth card is dealt in the same manner. The last (seventh) card is dealt face down. Now one last betting round follows and the players’ cards are compared to see who won.
What a poker tournament looks like
You can divide playing poker into two types, namely poker tournaments and cash games.
In a poker tournament, multiple players compete against each other and play according to a tournament blind structure. To play cash game you have to give money to the dealer and gives you chips that have the same value. Using values of 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 or more it indicates how much money you have.
The difference between a poker tournament and cash game is that the entry fee to participate in a tournament is often already fixed, while in cash game you can buy yourself in over and over again until you are broke. In cash games, you win money every hand and can cash it out if you want. In a tournament you have to play until you are out (your chips are gone) or until you have won. There is prize money for the top 10% to 15% of players who participate. These are some of the most famous poker tournaments in the world:
World Series of Poker (WSOP)
The World Series of Poker is the most famous poker tournament in the world. This event takes place every year in Las Vegas. During the WSOP, there are numerous tournaments, including the popular Main Event with a $10,000 buy-in. The winner of the Main Event gets to call themselves the “World Poker Champion. When the WSOP was in its infancy, one event was played. By now, there are as many as seventy events.
World Poker Tour (WPT)
The World Poker Tour starts as a tournament series only in the United States. But soon expansion takes place to Europe, Asia and Australia.
World Poker Tour
In 2015, the first WPT was played in Amsterdam Holland Casino. It also owes its popularity to amateur players who previously managed to win this tournament. Mike Sexton (professional poker player) and Vince van Patten (American actor / former professional tennis player) are the commentators of the World Poker Tour.
Master Classic of Poker (MCOP)
The Master Classic of Poker has been held at the Holland Casino in Amsterdam Centre since 2009. The tournament still took place in the month of November and offers a large number of poker tournaments. You can participate in this event every year. Poker tournaments such as the Main Event with a buy-in of €4,300 and a High Roller Event with a buy-in of €10,300 can be played. Nowadays there are more than 20 tournaments on the MCOP schedule. On the final day visitors can witness the spectacular final table of the High Roller Event.
Types of tournaments
Poker tournaments come in several varieties. Some involve immediate elimination, while others require you to buy more chips to stay in the tournament. The variant where you repeatedly buy yourself in are more favorable for organizers. With a re-entry, a fee is asked for organizing a poker tournament – or providing other services such as having permanent dealers.
In a freeze-out tournament you only get one chance. Lost your chips? You’re out of the tournament and can no longer participate. Although this variant used to be played a lot, these days you see more poker tournaments where players can buy-in again. These come in the forms of a re-entry or rebuy.
- Single Re-Entry
In a Single Re-Entry tournament, the casino benefits from the money wagered. A portion of your buy-in goes to the organization. It is possible to re-buy once at this variant. Sometimes you may be asked to stay in the same spot, but in most cases you will be assigned a new spot.
Rebuy poker tournaments are the most common these days. In this tournament format, players may buy chips again and pay a one-time fee to the organization (upon registration). It is common to limit the number of chips so that players buy in more often. This grows the prize pool and makes it more attractive for players to participate. At the end of the rebuy period, players are given the option to choose an add-on (additional chips).
Frequently Asked Questions
♠️ Is poker hard to learn?
♠️ Is poker hard to learn?
No. Learning poker is not difficult. You only need to learn the basics to start playing. The rules of most poker variations are the same, or fairly easy to learn. Learning how good you are at poker is quite a task though, but you don’t have to worry about that as a recreational poker player.
♥️ Can I win money playing poker?
Yes, in fact it is one of the best forms of entertainment that you can make money with. In addition, you don’t have to deal with a house edge which you do in casino games. In poker you compete against other players and by competing against weaker players you can win money in poker in the long run.
♦️ What is the goal in poker?
The goal in poker is to win the pot from your opponents. This pot contains chips or money wagered by different players during a hand. A player places bets hoping that his hand is better than an opponent’s, or tries to create the impression (bluff) that his hand is stronger and thus get opponents to throw it away (fold).
The money not betted is just as valuable as the money in the pot. Therefore, it is important to know when to discard a hand if you think your hand is beaten, or when to decide to go with a raise (call). In most forms of poker, a hand consists of a combination of the best five cards.
♣️ Where to play online poker
There are plenty of good poker sites on the Internet. However…. In the Netherlands, it is currently NOT permitted to gamble online through websites that do not hold a license issued by the Dutch Gaming Authority. As it stands, online licenses will be issued in October 2021.
♥️ What does rake mean?
Rake is the amount of money that a casino, poker site or organizer collects. This is a small percentage of a prize pool in a tournament. Rake can also be taken when playing cash games, which often have a “Cap” on them. The casino takes a percentage of each pot (often 5% or 10%). The Cap indicates the maximum amount of money a dealer may take from each pot. In many cases rake is referred to as an “entry fee”.
♦️ What is the best form of poker?
There are several poker variants and none of them can really be described as “best. That said, it is recommended for beginning players to start with Texas Hold’em poker. This is the most popular form today and it is one of the easiest to learn. After you are familiar with the rules of Texas Hold’em, other poker forms are also easier to learn.
♣️ What is the best starting hand in poker?
The best starting hand in most forms of poker is two Aces (A-A). The Ace is a powerful card and in the case of two it is also known as ‘Pocket Rockets’. With two Aces, you are in a good position pre-flop (before any cards open).
However, keep in mind that five community cards are still opened and this can help opponents form a better poker hand. The next best starting hand is two Kings (K-K. Other good starting hands are two Queens (Q-Q), an Ace and a King (A-K) of the same suit or other pairs such as two Jacks (J-J) and two Tens (10-10).
♠️ What is the worst starting hand in poker?
The worst starting hand in Hold’em Poker is a seven and a two 2 (7-2) of different suit. Although a three and a two (3-2) is lower, many players prefer this hand because it makes it easier to form a street because of consecutive cards.
Do I lose the money I have in the pot if I fold?
Yes, you lose the money in the pot when you fold. But if you continue in the hand, the possibility exists that you will lose more money. In some situations it is better to minimize losses and bet your money in more favorable situations.
♦️ What is the highest possible hand at poker?
In most poker variants, a Royal Flush is the highest possible hand. You form this hand with the cards Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten of the same symbol (also called suit). It does not matter which suit you form the Royal Flush with, and it is also called the Nuts.
♣️ What is the best position to have?
The best position to be in is the “Button. The button gives players the advantage because in each round they are the last to have to indicate what they want to do (check, bet, fold or raise). In addition, other players have already acted and you have more information to make your own decision. Unfortunately, you can play the ‘Button’ position once per ‘Orbit’. This amounts to the number of hands equal to the number of players at the table.
♠️ What poker games are available online?
All popular poker games are available. It is safe to say that Texas Hold’em is the most popular, but there are many other options such as Omaha, Razz, 7 Card Stud or mixed poker games. In a mixed poker game, players play different variants at the same time.
Moreover, it is important to know the rules of each variant before participating in such a tournament. You can find these tournaments under terms like “H.O.R.S.E”. HORSE refers to Hold’em, Omaha, Razz, Seven Card Stud and Eight or Better.
♥️ What is a ‘flush draw’?
You are on a “flush draw” the moment you can make a flush with one more card after the flop (3 cards) or turn (4th card). When you already have four cards of the same suit, this is called a four-flush. One more card of the same suit will complete your flush and this is a strong hand in poker. Only have three cards of the same suit? Then two more cards of the same suit are needed, this is called a ‘backdoor’ flush draw.
♦️ What is a straight draw?
A straight draw occurs when you have four consecutive cards and need one more card to complete a street (5 consecutive cards – for example, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8).
♣️ What is a “bad beat?
Being in a hand where you are a huge favorite and still end up losing the hand is called a ‘bad beat’. Because this happens regularly you often hear a lot of bad beat stories from players. This is part of the process of dealing with a bad beat.
Explanation of some poker terms!
In poker, each player deals a full hand. This is called an “orbit” by advanced players. Each time a player acts as dealer, a white button is placed in front of him, also called the ‘button’. This indicates that a full orbit around the poker table has taken place and who is currently in the turn of dealing cards. Whether you are playing with 2 or 10 players, a full orbit is completed after you have acted as dealer.
Small blind and big blind
The two players to the left of the button in a Poker game are required to place a bet before any cards are dealt on the table. They are known as “blinds” because players cannot see which cards will be dealt face up at the time of placing a small and big blind. The big blind is twice the amount of the small blind. The small blind often starts with a minimum limit, depending on which tournament structure is being used and whether cash games are being played.
Chips & Limits
Most forms of poker involve playing with chips rather than cash. In the case of a poker tournament, there is a mandatory cash deposit. After a player pays the money, they receive a specific number of chips (predetermined). Each player receives the same number, provided you are dealing with a bonus stack for early entry. This situation often occurs in a home game (tournament with friends) or local poker tournaments (tournament with acquaintances and friends in the pub).
Fisches for poker
In the case of a ‘cash game’, a player can re-buy himself after losing all his chips. In a freeze-out poker tournament, you cannot buy in additional chips and you are out of the tournament after losing your chips. There are also rebuy tournaments in which players are allowed to buy in chips up to a certain amount (usually four limits) when they fall below a certain number of chips.
The limits are fixed and are the amount by which a player may open or raise the pot. There are four types of limits, including pot limit, no limit, fixed limit and spread limit. Each has a minimum and maximum limit. The small blind and big blind must post this amount before cards are opened. This provides guaranteed money in the pot, making it more attractive for players to participate in the pot.
Limits go up in a poker tournament. This often happens in periods (levels) of 15 to 30 minutes. Per level, the small blind and big blind are gradually increased. It is common to start with blinds of 25 / 50.