The word "Poker" is used to describe any of a group of card games consisting of two or more players, with rounds of betting involved. There are countless varieties of poker games, most of which share the same hand ranking system - though there are exceptions. All poker games include a "pot" - the collective wagers of every participant, which each player vies to win - though some poker games award the pot to the highest hand, while others reward
the lowest hand. Hi/Lo variants split the pot equally between the highest and lowest hands in a game.
The vast majority of poker games begin with a forced bet; either an ante from each player, or a blind bet issued by one or two players (or more under specific circumstances). The cards are always dealt in a clockwise rotation, and typically the players take their turn in the same direction, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer or button. There are exceptions to this in the first round of poker games that implement a blind, as well as Stud poker games in which the players' exposed cards determine the player who acts first.
Players of a poker game are confronted with the option to fold their hand (rendering their cards dead, and the player will sit out until the next hand is dealt), check if no bet has been placed (meaning to waive the opportunity to open the bet, while remaining active in the hand), place a bet in accordance with the limit structure, raise the bet if another player has opened the bet already, or call the bet of a preceding player. Ultimately, a poker game ends when either: all but one of the players have folded their cards, issuing the pot to the last player standing; or two or more players reach the showdown phase in which the winning hand is determined, and the pot is awarded to that player.
One of the most popular poker games in the world is Texas Hold'em Poker
. This community card-style poker game spread from a tiny Texas town to the poker rooms of Las Vegas over the course of more than half a century. As modern technology made televised poker tournaments
more entertaining for home viewers, Texas Hold'em infiltrated the home poker games of America. Then, with the online poker
boom, Texas Hold'em became a world-wide phenomenon.
Another highly popular community card poker game is Omaha Poker, closely related to Texas Hold'em. Omaha Poker can be played as a Omaha Hi, or Omaha Hi/Lo. Both variants of Omaha are equally popular among online poker players
, though Omaha Hi/Lo
is commonly present in mixed poker games.
Stud poker games are also relatively easy to find in online poker rooms. 7 Card Stud, once the premier poker game of casino poker rooms, is still a persistent feature at the World Series of Poker, and many mixed poker games. Razz
is the lowball variant of 7 Card Stud, and is typically available at highly trafficked online poker sites
. 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo Split Eight or Better is a combination of the high and low Stud variants, dividing the pot equally between the players with the highest and lowest hands. An older Stud variant, 5 Card Stud Poker
, can be found in a limited number of online poker sites.
Mixed poker games, in which a number of poker forms are cycled throughout the course of the game, have grown in popularity since the World Series of Poker added the $50,000 HORSE event to its preliminary events schedule. HORSE Poker
is a challenging poker game that consists of players switching between Texas Hold'em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, 7 Card Stud, and 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo at regular intervals.
Draw poker games are also available in select online poker rooms. 5 Card Draw Poker
is a classic poker game, and one of the oldest poker forms that is still in play today. A very different draw poker game - called Badugi
- utilizes a unique hand ranking system, and allows players three draws in which to attempt to form the lowest, four-card Badugi hand.
While it seems impossible to trace the history of poker games back to a proven "parent" form, it is obvious that poker has undergone a number of popularity growth spurts. Simple poker games were played by soldiers in the American Revolution and American Civil War, eventually spreading knowledge of the forms all across the country.
More complex games evolved from the older, more fundamental forms in home games and underground circles, which were eventually brought together and standardized with the establishment of legal casinos. These newer forms allowed players more opportunities to develop and utilize Poker Strategies
that made the games more interesting and profitable.
Interest in televised poker tournaments and the development of the internet culminated in an ever-growing industry of online poker sites. The 2003 triumph of online poker player, Chris Moneymaker, at the World Series of Poker Championship event further strengthened the interest of the general public in learning how to play poker online
so that they, too, might find riches at the end of the online poker rainbow.
Anyone attracted to learning how to play poker games should first read and learn the Poker Rules
associated with the poker game they are most drawn to. It is also important for new players to understand that luck plays only a small part in winning at poker games. A tremendous amount of knowledge and skill can be applied to each poker game, called Poker Strategy. There are a number of approaches to winning at poker, including psychological poker strategies and mathematical strategies. There is not a single, consistently successful poker player that relies on luck in order to turn a profit at the poker tables.
Since the development and prevalence of online poker rooms
, poker games may now be enjoyed by anyone in the world with an internet connection. With a wide and varied selection of poker games that interested gamers can learn how to play, one may devote as much time as one wishes to developing their skill and proficiency with any one or more poker forms.