Introduction to Poker – Part 1

Card games have been played for centuries. Hours of excitement and fascination have been spent in plush salons, sleazy basement dives and friendly home games and, most importantly for poker, above aIl other games, fortunes have been won and lost.

In 1837, poker developed into, more or less, the game we have now. Previously, a short deck – or pack – of only twenty cards was utilized, but with the advent of the 52-card deck, which we know today, the game changed dramatically and for the better.

Since then, all poker games have been based on the purest form of the game: 5-Card Stud. ln this version, each player is dealt five cards and the betting begins, players having a chance to bet that theirs is the best hand at the table. Mostly, players fold – throw away their cards – and wait for a better hand. If one player bets more money into the pot than anyone is prepared to match, he takes the pot whether he really has the strongest hand or not; he doesn’t even have to show his cards. If one or more of the other players match the highest bet, there is a showdown – where aIl those players show their cards and the player with the best hand takes the spoils.

All poker hands, in every form of the game there is, have a ranking. It is how you tell who has the best hand. It is arranged in order based purely on the statistical probability of such a hand occurring, from the best hand and least likely to occur – the Royal Flush – to the worst hand and most commonly seen type of hand, containing nothing but a High Card.

All poker games are based on this ranking and all poker hands are made up of five cards. ln some versions of the game, more than five cards are dealt to each player, or are available for use. However, only five cards can be used to form a poker hand. Never more; never less.

5-Card Stud Poker is mostly about psychology, guts and the ability to mask your real emotions. Vou got your five cards and that was it. You had to fold them, pretend that you had the best hand or, if you really did have a great hand, pretend that you didn’t have one to lure other players into the betting action. But players wanted more action, more of a chance to stay involved in the hand. The solution was a development that, once again, was to change the face of poker: The Draw.