In casual play, the right to deal a hand typically rotates among the players and is marked by a token called a dealer button (or buck). In a casino, a house dealer handles the cards for each hand, but the button (typically a white plastic disk) is rotated clockwise among the players to indicate a nominal dealer to determine the order of betting. The cards are dealt clockwise around the poker table, one at a time.
One or more players are usually required to make forced bets, usually either an ante or a blind bet (sometimes both). The dealer shuffles the cards, the player on the chair to his right cuts, and the dealer deals the appropriate number of cards to the players one at a time, beginning with the player to his left. Cards may be dealt either face-up or face-down, depending on the variant of poker being played. After the initial deal, the first of what may be several betting rounds begins. Between rounds, the players’ hands develop in some way, often by being dealt additional cards or replacing cards previously dealt. At the end of each round, all bets are gathered into the central pot.
At any time during a betting round, if one player bets, no opponents choose to call (match) the bet, and all opponents instead fold, the hand ends immediately, the bettor is awarded the pot, no cards are required to be shown, and the next hand begins. This is what makes bluffing possible. Bluffing is a primary feature of poker, one that distinguishes it from other vying games and from other games that make use of poker hand rankings.
At the end of the last betting round, if more than one player remains, there is a showdown, in which the players reveal their previously hidden cards and evaluate their hands. The player with the best hand according to the poker variant being played wins the pot. A poker hand comprises five cards; in variants where a player has more than five cards available to them, only the best five-card combination counts.
How Do You Win?
Typically, the winner of each hand of poker is the player that holds the highest ranked hand when all cards are shown at the end of the hand –known as the ‘showdown’ – or the player that makes the last uncalled bet, thus winning without needing to reach a showdown.
Not sure whether a flush beats a straight? Can’t remember how to make a full house? You can find all the information you need to know about hand rankings in the table below. The strongest hands are in the top row, running from left to right, with the weakest possible hand being simply a high card.
Poker hands from highest to lowest
|Royal Flush||Straight Flush||Three of a Kind|
|Four of a Kind||Full House||Two Pair|
Dealing Cards and Betting Rounds
After any initial cards are dealt, players are usually called upon to act in turn, moving clockwise around the table.
Each player can usually take one of the following actions when it is their turn to act:
- Check – To check is to decline the opportunity to open the betting. Players can only check when there is no bet during the current round, and the act of checking passes the action clockwise to the next person in the hand. If all active players check, those players remain in the hand and the round is considered complete.
- Bet – Players may bet if no other players have bet during the current round. Once a bet has been made, other players must ‘call’ by matching the amount bet, in order to remain in the hand.
- Fold – Players who fold forfeit their cards and cannot win or act again during the current hand.
- Call – Players can call if other players have bet during the current round; this requires the calling player to match the highest bet made.
- Raise – Players may raise if other players have bet during the current round; this requires the raising player to match the highest bet made, and then make a greater one. All subsequent players are required to call the raise or raise again (‘re-raise’) to stay in the hand.
Here is a short video that explains some basic game rules.
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