Poker has an unlimited number of game variations, but there are a few attributes most poker games all share. Poker is generally played with 5 or 7 cards, but I have played in games where one card is dealt and others where 12 cards are dealt.
The one quality almost all poker games have in common are the hand rankings. At the end of the game, the player with the highest hand on the Hand Ranking Chart wins the game. Occasionally you will find a game where the lowest hand wins the game instead of the highest.
In most poker games players are competing for a pot. Players put money in the pot and the player with the highest ranking hand wins the money. A player can also win the pot if all of the other players throw in their hands. The reward for winning a hand can be whatever the players agree upon. It is not always money.
Most of today’s popular variations include providing information to the other players at the table. This is often done with community cards. These are cards placed face up on the table that all players can use in combination with the cards in their hand. Two common community card games are Texas Hold’em and Omaha. Other popular games show a portion of each player’s cards face-up in front of them. These cards can only be used by the player they are dealt to, but they can be seen by all of the other players. Two common face-up poker games are seven-card and five-card stud.
There can be one or many rounds of betting depending on the variation being played. In each round of betting players get the option to stay without betting (check) or put an amount of money into the pot (bet). Betting is done because the player feels he or she has the best hand, or it can be a way to convince the other players to fold without a good hand (bluff). Once a bet is made by one player, the other players can match the bet (call) to stay in the hand, or increase the bet (raise) to force the other players to pay more money into the pot to stay in the game.
Some variations of poker have wild cards. Wild cards can be used as any card of any suit to improve a player’s hand. A player may put the jokers into the deck and announce they are wild, may simply say 2’s are wild, or may call a game where the wild cards change as the game progresses. Wild cards have become a staple of the home poker game, but are not generally seen in casinos.
Poker has become an International game played by millions of people around the world. Today you can play poker with your friends at home, at a casino, or on the Internet. The widespread popularity of the game and the easy access to games for anyone with a computer are both drastically increasing the number of players. Mastering the game takes years of patience and experience, but once accomplished, the money you can win will be well worth the effort.