Introduction to Poker
Written 1st September 2020
Poker is one of the most popular casino games in the world - both in land-based and online casino venues so, if you’ve never played it before, you might be wondering why. Why has the gameplay rocketed in popularity in the last 70-or-so years? What makes this such a long-standing fan-favourite? The answer to the former question is almost entirely pop culture. From James Bond to late-night Poker television shows, it has had its fair share of airtime and casino players’ choice of games seems to have been influenced accordingly. The answer to the latter question, however, requires a more long-winded answer - so we’ll start with outlining the basics of the game.
Whether you’re new to Poker or just looking to learn something new, we’ve gathered up all the most important rules that comprise the game in order to give you a good idea of what exactly characterises this live casino smash hit. Maybe you’ll even want to learn more about how to play afterwards, but for now, you can read on for our introduction to Poker.
What is the Aim in Poker?
If you were to walk into a brick and mortar casino, the likelihood is you would want to know what your goal of a certain game is before you sit down and play it. Take slot machines for example; if you saw one of these brightly-lit games in your local casino, as eye-catching as they are, you might not really consider sitting down and sticking some money in unless you know that the aim of the game is quite simply to land multiple symbols across a payline. Knowing what your goal is as the player simplifies the game to make it easier to learn more about the rules as a beginner.
On that note, if you were to approach a Poker table, would you know what the objective of the game was? If your answer is yes, great! You’re ready to find out more about the rules, betting options and strategies, and game variants. If your answer is no then this is the first thing you should learn before you commit to playing.
You’ll be pleased to know that the aim of Poker is just to end the round with the strongest hand - or bluff your opponent(s) into thinking that you have the strongest hand. Understanding this is the first step to learning how to play Poker, and all of the rules you will come to find out about ultimately lead back to this objective.
Basic Poker Rules
Poker Hand Rankings: There is a clear hierarchy to the possible hand outcomes - and it’s important to remember this when analysing your cards as this can be the difference between winning and losing. The best possible hand that can occur in Poker is a Royal Flush (10-A in the same suit) but this is also the rarest combination. Closely behind is a Straight Flush (5 cards of neighbouring values in the same suit, e.g. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6). There are plenty of potential hand outcomes so it’s worth your while to clue yourself up on the ranking order of these.
Table Talk & Hand Signals: This is more applicable to playing at a land-based venue but for those of you that do prefer to play at a brick and mortar venue, it’s important to make sure you give clear instructions to the dealer on what you would like your next move to be. As an alternative, you can use applicable hand signals to indicate what you would like to do. There can often be some intricate table etiquette in regards to conversation, so it’s worth reading up on the room when you pull up a pew before starting up any general chit-chat.
Call: Choosing to Call in a game of Poker indicates that you would like to continue playing by matching the value of the current bet, allowing you to progress further in the game.
Raise: If you tell the dealer that you want to Raise, this indicates you want to increase the value of the opening bet - a move that is often made when a player has a strong hand or wants to make their opponents believe that is the case.
Fold: If you decide to fold then you’re forfeiting the hand and are essentially stepping out of play.
Check: Where no bets have yet been made you can choose to Check. This tells the dealer that you would like to keep the cards that you have but don’t want to open betting; this will pass the first action onto the next player. If you Check then you’re still given the ability to take other actions in the round as you see fit.
Ante: The ante is the initial bet that you will place when playing a game of Poker - all other people at the table will also place an Ante if they would like to play.
‘Strategies’ is a loosely coined term when it comes to Poker. While there is an element of skill involved in the gameplay that is improved through experience and a thorough understanding of the rules, the game is still powered by chance. Strategies will only get you so far in this casino game and have no way of guaranteeing a win.
David Sklasnky, one of the most famous professional Poker players in the world, said in his The Theory of Poker book that “Every time you play your hand the same way you would have played it if you could see all their cards, they lose.” Essentially, he’s saying that you should play as if you can see what is on the reverse of your opponent’s cards. The obvious problem here is that this isn’t actually possible but by scrutinising the other players’ moves and decisions, you might be able to get a fair read on what their hand could look like. Approaching the Poker table with confidence is absolutely key.
A good way to gain confidence in your Poker strategy is to first try playing in the format of table games which are simple single-player versions that are much less intimidating for beginners.
Popular Poker Variants
Texas Hold’em Poker: This is one of the most simple Poker variants and certainly one of the most popular thanks to its easy-to-follow set of rules.
Three Card Poker: This is a fast-paced variant that is perfect for players that just want to be able to try out the gameplay of Poker without the long-winded gameplay. Rounds are short but potential payouts are high, making this a brilliant beginner-friendly option.
Caribbean Stud Poker: This variant of Poker found stems from five-card Poker. The main difference between Caribbean Stud and other games is that this is played exclusively against the house and not other players.
Live Poker at Pink Casino
Now that you’ve read our introductory guide you’re clued up on most of the basics. You can learn more about how to play Poker over at our casino blog if you would like, or you can start playing live Poker right here at Pink Casino and test out the gameplay. Poker is one of the few casino games where experience really does help with understanding how to play, so you can head over to our live casino page if you do want to start playing alongside other Poker players at your leisure.
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