Poker Information

The game to play is no limit Texas hold'em. It's the game played in the World Series and also that played on Channel 4's Late Night Poker. Poker has taken much more of a public interest here now it's shown on tv.


To play Hold'em you need a deck of cards, a dealer button and something to bet with. I've got a load of casino style chips (bought from The World of Gambling), a few casino quality decks of cards and some felt to throw over a table for a more poker-like atmosphere. A dealer button is any object used to keep track of who the dealer is in each turn (Especially in a casino where there is a fixed dealer). This can be anything, something small and bright will do nicely.


Poker Hand Rankings:
A poker hand is made from the best arrangement of five cards and are ranked as follows, highest first:

Royal Flush: A-K-Q-J-10, all same suit
Straight Flush: any five consecutive cards, all same suit
Four-of-a-Kind: four cards, same value
Full House: Three-of-a-Kind and a Pair
Flush: any five cards of the same suit
Straight: any five consecutive cards
Three-of-a-Kind: three cards, same value
Two Pair
High card: five dissimilar cards, mixed suit

Texas Hold'Em

Hold'Em is a descendant of 7 card-stud, in that players form a five-card hand from seven available cards, but that's where the similarity ends. Two cards are held by the player as pocket cards. The other five are open, dealt to the middle of the table and shared by all players. Of course this means there are less cards in play, which is why Hold'Em typically seats nine or more players at the table.

The dealer in Hold'Em is marked by a disk called the button. For each hand the button rotates to the left. Players are identified by their seat position. The dealer is seat one, the player to the dealer's left is seat two and so on, clockwise around the table to the player on the dealer's right which is typically seat nine.

In practice, casino Hold'Em has a fixed (house) dealer and the button rotates around the table simply to mark the rotation of theoretical dealer. Betting position significantly affects a player's opportunities so the button's position in not simply symbolic.

Hold'Em uses two forced bets, the blinds, to get Bets on the table right from the beginning of the game.

The Open: The first player to the dealer's left -- seat two -- is the small blind and must kick in the value of the minimum bet. Seat three is the big blind and must kick in twice the value of the minimum bet.

The deal rotates clockwise around the table beginning with the player to the big blind's left. Each player is dealt their first pocket card in turn, then their second.

Since the blinds opened with their forced bets, seat four, the player to the big blind's right, bets first. They Call by matching the big blind and may also Raise. In this round Checking is not permitted as there is already a bet down.

The players who played the blinds in Hold'Em are live in that they can Call, Raise or Fold when the betting has returned to them.

The Flop: Once the first betting round has completed, the dealer lays out the first three community cards in the center of the table. This is called the flop.

This betting round begins with the blinds, or the first remaining seat on the dealer's left. Checking is permitted now and for the rest of the hand. Bets are placed up to any limit as long as they are above the minimum agreed bet.

The Turn: A fourth community card it dealt onto the table.

Betting begins with the blinds, as before.

The River: The fifth and final community card is dealt.

Betting begins with the blinds, as before.

The Showdown: The best 5 card hand wins. Players may form their final hands from any combination of the table cards and their own pocket cards, even ignoring the pocket cards and using only the table cards if they wish.

Common terms/gestures

Tapping twice on the table: This denotes checking
Going all in: This is a bet of all your chips
Taking someone all in: This is a bet equal to an opponents chips if you have more than them
Head's Up: The situation when only two players remain in a game
Splashing the pot: throwing chips into the pot creating a mess. Bad Etiquette
Bluffing: Pretending to have a hand that you do not have. Either of greater or lower value to deceive opponents

This page was created by Phil Waring, Copyright 2003-2009

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