It doesn’t matter if you are playing for fun or for real money the object of the game of poker, like any other game, is to win! The game of poker is about strategy and tactics and will test all levels of skill mixed with the element of chance. You must remember that you are playing against other players not the dealer.
As you may know there are various forms of the game of poker but there are similarities between all of them. Each table has a ‘dealer’ and their position is very important. In a basic game of Texas Hold’em for example, the player to the immediate left of the dealer position and the next player to their left are required to make compulsory bets, known as the Small Blind and Big Blind. The deal rotates clockwise to make sure that it is fair for everyone. A small disc known as the Button containing a letter ‘D’ is used to identify the ‘Dealer’.
All players contribute towards a central pot which contains chips which either represent play money or real money.
All players are dealt cards only they can see, otherwise known as a hand or whole cards.
On the strength of these cards, wagers are made by means of rounds of betting. The following describes the actions that will happen:
If there is no wager on the current betting round then a player may check. By checking the player passes the action to the next player immediately clockwise from them. A check does not forfeit interest in the pot, only the current right to bet. If all players check during a round of betting, the round is considered complete.
If there is no wager on the current betting round, a player may bet. If a player does bet, then the player immediately clockwise from them (and any subsequent players) may fold, raise, or call.
The act of folding, forfeits all interest in the pot. A player who folds is not required or allowed to wager any further money for the current poker game.
If there has been a wager on the current round of poker play, a player may call. The act of calling requires the player to match the current bet made by their opponents.
If there has been a wager on the current betting round, a player may raise. Raising requires the player to match the current bet, and make a greater one. All subsequent players are required to either call the raise or to raise again (this is known as "re-raise") to maintain interest in the pot.
Three community cards which all players can use to make their five cards hand are dealt face up on the table. Then there follows a second round of betting.
A fourth community card is dealt face up on the table. Then there follows a third round of betting.
The fifth and final community card is dealt face up on the table. Then there follows the final round of betting.
When the last bet or raise on the final betting round is called, the "showdown" occurs. This is when it is determined who wins the pot, as players show their hands one-by-one. It may be the case that there is no showdown. This occurs when a player bets or raises, and no active players choose to call the player's bet (in other words, all players fold). In this case, the player doing the betting or raising wins the full amount of the pot. If two or more players have the same winning hand then the pot is split equally between them.
Table Stakes and ‘All In’
Basic poker play is typically played "table stakes" This means only the chips in play at the beginning of each hand may be used throughout the hand. The table stakes rule has an application called the ‘All In’ rule, which states that a player cannot be forced to forfeit a poker hand because they do not have enough chips to call a bet. A player who does not have enough chips to call a bet is declared ‘All In’. The player is eligible for the portion of the pot to the point of his final wager. All further action involving other players takes place in a ‘side pot’, which is ineligible to the All In player.