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Introducing Poker
Ranking Hands
The sequence of play
Betting Interval
Betting Small and Big Blinds
Table stakes
Using wild cards
Probability of holding
First betting interval
seven card stud
Other forms of poker
Texas Hold'em Basic Hand
Five - Six card Omaha
Poker Sense
Slow Playing
Other Gambling Card Game
Seven-card Brag
Gin Rummy

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From 1836 references to online poker by name appear in books.  At that time it was played with a 20-card pack (A, K, Q, J, 10 in each suit) and four players were dealt five cards each.  Hands were ranked, from highest to lowest four of a kind, a full (i.e. A, K, Q, J, 10), three of a kind, two pairs and one pair.  The top hand (four Aces) was an outright winner, unlike a royal flush in modern poker, which can be equaled.  In fact, in the old form of the game a full was unbeatable, although it could be equaled, because it precluded an opponent holding four of a kind.  This form was known as Flat Poker.

            It was not long before poker was being played with the full pack of 52 cards.  By 1850 this form had completely overtaken the 20- card game, and was briefly known as bluff.  With 52 cards the flush was recognized as a distinctive hand, and the straight, the full house and the straight flush were later also given recognition.  Strangely the straight was not at first universally given its proper place in the ranking order, as some players thought that three of a kind should outrank it.


The use of the 52-card pack allowed players to improve their hand by changing some cards if they wanted, and the draw became a standard part of the game, and this version of the game became known as Draw Poker.  By 1865 an American ‘Hoyle’ mentioned Stud Poker, supposedly a game started by cowboys in Ohio, Indian and Illinois.  Split Poker, Whiskey Poker and several other variations of the game were soon being played.  The sheer variety of poker games has made it difficult for ‘official’ rules to be drawn up.

Social Gambling

If poker itself developed rapidly over 40 years or so of the mid-nineteenth century, so did its place in society.  It had begun in the early days of the nineteenth century in gambling saloons and was associated widely with card-sharps, cheats, gangsters and anybody else out to make a quick buck the Mississippi riverboats became notorious as places where passengers were fleeced by professional gamblers. By the end of the century poker was more widely played as a respectable and entertaining private game, played in homes among friends and acquaintances.

            Nowadays casinos and clubs are again important places to play, and some high-stale casino games played by poker experts receive wide publicity and are closely followed in the press.  Since the mid 1980s ‘World Series of Poker has been televised in the USA and in 1999 such a poker game was arranged and televised over several days by Britain’s Channel 4 and proved very successful, being followed by further series.  Poker, in its history of 200 years or so, has never been so popular.

How to use this book


  • Stakes and antes are represented by circles; the numbers in the circles represent the number of chips.
  • White chips indicate those staked during rounds.
  • Grey chips indicate those staked during the current betting round.
  • Orange chips indicate those in a side-pot in Stud Poker

CARDS shown face up but shaded represent cards in the players’ hands or face down on the table.



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