Time to rock the stunner shades. Unlike casino games like blackjack where you play against the dealer, in poker, you face other players. The stunner shades come in handy when trying to keep a poker face (straight, without emotion). However, if you play online, there is no poker face necessary, unless it is a live chat, which is rare.
No matter what you hear about beginner’s luck, poker is a skill game. There are four types: straight, draw, stud and community. The rise in popularity of community games like Texas Hold’em is a result of high-stakes tournaments, such as the World Series of Poker, for large amounts of money. The styles of each game differ but all are played with a standard 52 card deck and defined hand rankings. Chips represent your money and a game generally consists of four to seven players. In tournament play, the field is much bigger, sometimes in the hundreds. Bets are made into a pot that the winner receives. Players bet and stakes increase leading up to the final showdown where the cards are shown and a winner is determined. Bluffing is deceiving other players into thinking you possess a better hand than what you really have and is an important skill for poker.
The Rise of Texas Hold’em
This type of poker has four rounds of betting and players build poker hands from their two hole cards, which are dealt individually face-down, and a series of five community cards, which are dealt face-up in the center of the table. Different variations of Hold’em are limit, no-limit, Omaha and antes but these are the details on straight Hold’em using blinds, one of the most popular types.
Pay attention, playa. The person to the left of the dealer is the small blind and the big blind (double the small blind) is the next person to the left. Blinds create action and big pots. Every player is dealt two face-down cards to keep to themselves. One round of betting occurs. Players call, raise or fold from the previous bet. Then, the initial three community cards are dealt in what is known as “the flop.” Next, a second round of betting is followed by the fourth community card known as “the turn.” After that, a third round of betting is followed by the fifth and last community card known as “the river,” nicknamed the “river of dreams.” A fourth round of betting follows the river before the winner of the hand is decided.
Hand ranks for all types of poker are listed here from highest to lowest:
- Straight Flush (with a “Royal Flush” being the highest straight flush)
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- High Card
If you want to be a true baller, there are a few all-encompassing poker strategies you need to know. First off, no matter what, it’s important to maintain self-discipline. Don’t get hustled by someone because of careless play. Some poker players reflect their personality in their strategy. This can be effective to a certain degree. An impatient or agitated player will rush into big bets and aggressive plays, while a relaxed player will prefer to bluff or check-raise.
Aggressive Play: most exciting poker move. Aggressive moves include placing an opening bet or raising. Suffice it to say, it’s best used when you have a strong hand. If you overdo it though, your opponents will catch on, brand you as a “loose” player and use it against you.
Bluffing Play: deceiving your opponent by betting with a poor hand. If you’re successful, your opponents will fold, increasing your chances of winning the hand.
Slow Play: opposite of bluffing, for the cautious poker players. You bet small, even if you have a really strong hand, in order to keep players in the game. It pays off if players who were planning on folding stay in the hand. The object of the slow play is to be perceived as weak and be raised by someone else, resulting in great dividends.
Protection Play: bet made with a strong but vulnerable hand. An example is a pair of Jacks when a straight or flush is possible. Unlike bluffing, it doesn’t require all your opponents to fold.
Check-Raise Play: you have a strong hand but check, or pass to the next player with no bet, early in the hand to get someone else to place an opening bet. It’s like bluffing or slow play, but you raise after initially checking. The pots can get big but don’t overdo it.
Don’t overuse just one strategy because other players will label you for that strategy and use it against you. The best poker players use a combination of these strategies. Unpredictability is your greatest asset.