The Basics of Poker


A game of cards with a high degree of skill and chance, poker has been played in many forms throughout history. The game first entered English society in 1829, and it is widely credited to General Schenck, the American ambassador to Britain, who was prevailed upon by his friends to teach them this new and fascinating game. The rules of poker are simple, and there is room for much strategy.

Initially, all players are dealt 2 cards face down. There is then a round of betting that is initiated by 2 mandatory bets called blinds put into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. Once that round of betting is complete a third card is dealt on the table that everyone can use, this is known as the flop. A final round of betting ensues on this card, and again starts with the player to the left of the dealer.

Once all of the betting is complete the cards are revealed and the highest hand wins the pot. A full house is 3 matching cards of one rank and 2 matching cards of another rank, a flush is 5 consecutive cards from the same suit, and a straight is 5 cards that are unmatched in either rank or sequence. 2 pair is two cards of the same rank and three unmatched cards, and 1 pair is just 2 matching cards.

A big part of being a successful poker player is knowing when to be aggressive and when to be cautious. There are going to be times when you feel like calling a huge raise when you have nothing, and it is important to remember that these plays will often get punished by an opponent who has more than enough value on later streets.

The other thing to remember is to always have a plan. You should be able to explain why you want to call a bet and what you expect to happen on the later streets, and then stick to that plan no matter what. You should also be willing to let your ego go and play against people who aren’t afraid to make mistakes, because they will have the chance to make them up on later streets.

Finally, you should try to learn some of the more obscure variations of poker, like Omaha, Crazy Pineapple, and Cincinnati. This will help you be a more well-rounded player and allow you to pick up on tells that aren’t as easy to notice when you are involved in the hand.

In the end, the best way to improve your poker skills is to play a lot of poker and study your opponents as much as possible. This will lead to better decisions in the long run. It is hard to do, but it is a necessary skill for anyone who wants to be successful at poker. So, good luck and happy playing! –J. Hildreth, Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains (1836). Two slightly later publications independently show that the game was in use by 1829.