A card game that’s truly stood the test of time, evolving over centuries to form the casino staple we know and love today; Poker has travelled around the world and back again before becoming available on your screen, to play from the comfort of your very own home. So, to brush up on your Poker knowledge so that the next time you play casino games at Sky Vegas, for example, or at a land-based establishment, you can look, and feel, like a pro – read on!
The rise of Poker
Some of the earliest games resembling the form of Poker that we know and love today dates back centuries, originating from Europe, the Middle East and China. In the early 1800s, Poker began to take shape throughout America, with early forms known as Poque played in some of the first gambling houses in New Orleans. During the American Civil War, the game gained popularity amongst soldiers, helping it to travel to the western frontier.
In the late 1800s, Poker became an integral part of the expansion of the western frontier, quickly becoming associated with the ‘Wild West’, where the games often had higher stakes than just losing your bankroll. At the same time, traders travelled up the Mississippi River, and Poker was introduced to ports and towns far and wide, helping the popularity of the game rise throughout the world.
Whilst some forms of Poker were often played with only a deck of 20 cards, the mid-1800s saw a standard deck increase to hold 52 cards. Five-card Poker evolved once again, birthing what is now known as Texas Hold’em.
The California Gold Rush in 1849 also played a huge part in the game evolving from having five cards in play, to having seven. Other variants popped up over time, but as far as we know, Poker has not changed for the last 100 years – the goal aways being to make the best possible five-card Poker hand, or bluff your way to winning.
How to play – back to basics
Essentially, playing Poker can be quite straightforward. First, the dealer will deal each player two cards. Keep these to yourself. The lower bet is placed, followed by a bigger bet, and then the first round of wagering commences. Place your bets based on how well you think your hand will do. You can either match or rise the previous bet. The dealer deals three cards face up on the table – these will be used to make up the remainder of everyone’s hands. The second round of betting will begin. At any point, you can choose to fold and step out of the game.
The dealer will then deal the fourth card face up on the table, and a third round of betting begins, and the same goes for the fifth card. When the final round of betting commences, if two or more players remain in play, they’ll show their cards. The winner is the player with the best hand.
The Poker hands
In order to know if your hand is any good, or has the potential to be good, you’ll want to refresh your knowledge of the Poker hands:
- Royal Flush: The highest and rarest Poker hand is called a Royal Flush, consisting of five consecutive cards of the same suit, valued from 10 through Ace.
- Straight Flush: A Straight Flush consists of any five cards, in order, in the same suit, that’s not a Royal Flush.
- Four of a Kind: The same card in all four suits.
- Full House: A hand made up of the same value card in three different suits, and a separate pair of cards with the same value in two different suits.
- Flush: Five cards of the same suit in any order.
- Straight: Five cards in order of value, made up of more than one suit.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same value in different suits.
- Two Pairs: Two different sets of cards with the same value.
- Pair: A pair of cards worth the same value, but in different suits.
- High Card: The lowest-ranked hand, in this case, the highest card in your hand can win if your opponents haven’t got any other hand, and their highest card is lower than yours.
So, now you know everything you need to know about playing Poker, are you ready to perfect your Poker-face and try your hand at the centuries-old game?