Whether played by two people, or by hundreds of people, poker is a game of skill, strategy, and luck. Players use cards to create five-card hands, which are evaluated for strength and value. The player with the best hand wins the pot.
In the early days of poker, a slang term for the game was “poke”. This name may have been attributed to pickpockets, or card hustlers, who would cheat unsuspecting opponents. In the U.S., three-card brag was popular during the American Revolution. However, the word “poker” was not attached to the cheating game until Jonathan H. Green saw it on a Mississippi riverboat. He said that the game was played with a standard 52-card pack.
The first player in the deal has a responsibility to make the first bet. A player who checks, folds, or declines to fold, is called a “dropper”. He loses any chips in the pot. This leaves the other players to match the bet. Alternatively, he can raise the bet. Depending on the rules, he can bluff by claiming to have the best hand. In stud poker, a higher limit is usually required for players with exposed pairs.
In each betting interval, a player’s chips are assigned a value. A dark-colored chip is worth two, four, or five reds, while a blue chip is worth 10 or 25 whites. If a player raises a bet, other players must match or fold. In some games, the ace is treated as the lowest card. During the fourth betting interval, the hole cards are revealed.
The first bettor is the player with the highest ranking five-card combination. If the player’s hand isn’t strong enough to win, the player is allowed to bluff or fold.
In each of the first three betting intervals, each player is dealt a card face up. This is the basis of the hand. After the third interval, the cards are dealt to the remaining players. Each player can discard up to three cards. The dealer deals the rest of the cards. The dealer’s last obligation is to shuffle the deck and offer it to the next player for cut.
The fifth and final interval is known as the “showdown”. After the cards have been discarded, all bets have been equalized, and each player has the same number of chips as the players before them. The player with the highest ranking five-card combination will win the pot. Often, the lowest possible hand is 6-4-3-2-A.
A pot is created through all the bets made by all the players in a deal. The central pot contains winnings from all the rounds. If no other player bets during the showdown, the pot is won by the player with the highest hand. If a player bets during the showdown and the hand isn’t good, the player will have no opportunity to compete for the pot. If a player bets during an interval, he is called a “active” player.