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Introduction
Development
Introducing Poker
Ranking Hands
Chips
The sequence of play
Shuffling
Dealing
Betting Interval
Betting Small and Big Blinds
Table stakes
Using wild cards
Probability of holding
First betting interval
Strategy-1
Strategy-2
Seven-Card Stud
Other forms of poker
Texas Hold'em Basic Hand
Five - Six card Omaha
Poker Sense
Slow Playing
Other Gambling Card Game
Blackjack
Brag
Seven-card Brag
Gin Rummy
Glossary

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INTRODUCING POKER

The object of poker

The object of the game is to win money or the chips representing money, from the other players.  This is achieved in a succession of deals which last either until an agreed time, until all the players’ remains, all the others having lost their stake money.  Each deal is complete in itself and is not affected by previous or subsequent deals.
            Each player in each deal is dealt a poker hand of five card; in some games, e.g. Seven-card Stud Poker, each player selects his five-card hand from a larger number of cards.  In successive rounds of betting, each player bets that he holds a better poker hand than any other player.  Players places their bets towards the center of the table, the accumulated bets becoming the pot.  A player may fold (pull out of a deal) at any time, but loses any stakes he has already bet in that deal.

            A deal finishes when either all players but one fold, and he takes the pot, or a showdown is reached.  The remaining players reveal their hands, and the player with the best hand takes the pot.
            At the showdown, if two players or more have equally good winning hands the pot is divided between them.  Most poker games can be played in a ‘High-Low’ version, in which the player with the best hand, and the player with the ‘worst’, share the pot.  In some versions, one player can win ‘high’ and ‘low’ with the same hand.

The general rules of the game

Poker continues to evolve, and has resisted attempts to impose universally recognized laws upon it.  As early as the nineteenth century at least one code was drafted, but this was mainly to prevent cheating.  Many clubs and casinos have their own rules and many books have been published setting out general practices.
            This section relates to practices common to all forms of poker.  How to play specific versions of the game follow in the parts on Draw Poker and Stud Poker, etc.

The number of players

The number of players in a poker game can vary from two to fourteen, depending on which version is being played.  Players may join a game that has already started, so it is usual at the start of a game to agree a maximum numbers.  Draw Poker is best played with no more than seven players and Stud Poker with any more than ten.  When the maximum number of people is playing, no one else can join until one of current players leaves.  Players can decide at the beginning of a game not to admit latecomers.

The cards

The standard pack of 52 cards is used, with the cards ranking:
A (high), K.Q.J.10.9.8.7.6.5.4.3.2 
The Ace can also be sued at the end of the sequence 5, 4, 3, 2, A, where it is ranked low.  It can’t be used in the middle of a sequence, e.g. 2, A, K, Q, and J.
The suits are equal and not ranked.

Wild cards

By mutual agreement, any card or cards in the pack may be designated wild.  The holder of a wild card may use it to represent any card he wishes, except that in some schools he cannot use it to duplicate a card he already holds, i.e. if he holds all four Aces, his wild card cannot represent a fifth Ace.  If a player has a pair of Kings and a pair of 4s, he can use a wild card to convert his two pairs to a full house, which ranks higher.  Equally, if he has three of a kind, he can use a wild card to improve it to four of a kind.
            Originally, the most common way to introduce a wild card to poker was to use the Joker as a wild card in a 53-card pack, but now it is more usual to specify one whole rank as wild, most commonly the 2s (deuces).  The black deuces are usually used if only two wild cards are wanted.

            More on the use of wild cards appears on, including which combinations most schools do not allow, how they affect the probabilities of certain card combinations appearing and now to value hands when wild cards are used.  In the descriptions of games in this book, wild cards are not used unless stated.

Ranking of poker hands

The ranking of poker hands is shown below.  From highest to lowest they are as follows, with the first number quoted being the number of such hands possible in a 52-card pack without wild cards being used, the second figure showing the probability of being dealt such a hand straight from the pack, and the third the probability expressed as a percentage.