At the start of the poker session the players cut the cards to decide who will deal first: the person with the lowest value card is the first to deal. The job of dealer in poker is very important, for not only does he shuffle the deck and deal the requisite number of cards to each player, but he is also in charge of the game during the period of the deal. The dealer will ensure that each player acts in his proper turn and puts the right amount of money into the pot. Play starts with the player on the dealer’s immediate left and progresses in a clockwise direction. This means that the dealer enjoys the advantage of being able to bet last. After the first hand has been dealt the role of dealer passes to the player who is sitting on the immediate left of the original dealer and then to each player around the table, again in a clockwise direction, so that all players can enjoy this benefit.
Before the cards are dealt, everyone contributes a small amount to the pot: this is called the ante. This makes sure that there is some money in the pot for the players to fight over at the start of the hand. Once money has entered the pot it can only be taken out again by the winner of that particular hand.
After everyone has anted the dealer shuffles the deck and offers it to the player on his right to cut. Then he deals one card from the top of the deck to each player, starting with the player on his left, dealing clockwise and finishing with himself. He does this five times in all, so that everyone has five cards. It is important that the cards should be cut, because it is one way to reduce the risk of cheating. Sometimes at the start of the session, the players might also cut to determine the seating arrangement, but in most home games people sit where they like at the table. The relative seating positions of players at the table is important for several reasons, some are prosaic but some are tactical.
The first player to act in a draw poker game is the one to the immediate left of the dealer. His options are to check (meaning to make no bet at this stage) or open if he likes his cards. To indicate a check, players can say ‘check’ or simply tap the table. When betting it is usual to announce the amount you are betting, so everyone is clear about what you are doing. Then the option passes to the next player. Once somebody has opened the betting however, those behind can no longer check. They must fold (throw their cards away and take no further part in the hand), call (put in a sum to equal the bet to stay in the game) or raise (increase the bet). So when a player is calling a bet, he puts in the same amount of money as has already been bet. If he is raising he must say/raise’ and put in the amount of money required to call the bet plus an additional amount of money for the raise. Except when a player is all-in’ (see below for a definition) the amount of his raise must be at least as much as the amount of the bet. So if the bet is £10, the raise must be at least £10. Thus the player making the raise would have to put £20 into the pot, £10 to call the bet and another £10 to raise. All players must have put in the same amount of money in order to stay in the game. In the following example I have kept all of the bets in units of £10, apart from the antes (£1) for simplicity. This would be called a £10 limit game, because the bets are limited to a maximum of £10.
At the beginning of the betting round there is £6 in the pot (made up of a £1 ante from each player). The dealer was player F, meaning that player A is first to act. To begin with players A and B both check, player C opens for £10, so
now all subsequent players must call this £10, raise or fold. Player D folds and thus takes no further part in this hand. Player E calls by matching the £10 bet. Player F raises £10 and to do this he must first match the £10 bet and then put in a further £10 for the raise, making £20 in all. Note that all players must put an equal amount of money after each betting round to remain in contention for the pot. So as Player F has now put £21 in the pot, players A and B are each required to put in £20 (as they have only put in £1 each at this point) in order to stay in the game. However, player C only needs to put in £10 to call (because he has already put in £10). Player A decides to fold, but player B calls the £20. Player C decides to re-raise a further £10, but of course first he puts in the £10 to call, making £20 he puts in at this time. So now all subsequent players must put in the difference to equal the £31 total contribution that player C has made to the pot. Player E, who would have to put in a further £20, decides this is too expensive and folds, player F calls player C’s re-raise of £10, as does player B.
End of part 1, click for part2