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Poker Basics

Most poker variations are played with a 52 card deck in which the jokers are not used. The 52 cards are divided into 4 different "suits" which include: Diamonds, Clubs, Spades, and Hearts. No one "suit" is stronger than any other. With that being said, what does make the strength of a hand is the cards which are numbered in strength starting with weakest to strongest: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace.

During each player's turn, the player has the option to match the bet (a "call" if a bet was previously placed, a check if there was no bet and your matching the no bet) placed by the poker player before him, increase the bet (raise) placed before him, or fold which means throw your cards away and sit out the rest of the hand. At the end of the betting, all players must reveal their cards to see who has the strongest hand. The strongest hand wins the pot. If only one player is left that player wins the pot and is not required to show the table his hand.

While you may find buddies getting together to play a pickup game for fun or you may see people playing for free online, poker is perdominantly a betting man's game. As some put it, "no loot no drama no interest."

Poker is played using chips, not cash. At most poker rooms white chips are one dollar, red chips are five dollars, green chips are twenty five dollars, and black chips are one hundred dollars.

Many will say that a poker player should only play when he has a strong hand. This works, will win you a bunch of poker hands, but is somewhat conservative. The key to winning real money at poker is to mix in a bluff from time to time to avoid only winning small pots. On the flip side there is nothing wrong with only winning small pots as it's our philosophy that a small drip fills the bucket!

Speaking of bluffing, let's take a look at what it is, why you do it, and how it works. A bluff is when you try to make the other players at the table believe you are sitting on a good hand when your not. The idea here is to scare them out of the hand. Oddly enough, if your good at this you can actually force players out of the game that have much beter hands than you. While bluffing is a key part of poker, we do not recommend you do it too often as it should only be used as a special weapon so to speak and in the right circumstances. Again, don't get hooked on doing it too often or other players will "call your bluff" and it can be costly. Keep in mind that when you bluff, and if the betting goes to the final round with more than one player, you will be forced to reveal your cards and others will see that you've bluffed. A good poker player hides the fact he's bluffing through both wise play and the ability to not give away poker tells.

The Game

Nearly every poker game uses the same hand rank. It is important that you are familiar with poker hand values as this will help determine how strong of a hand you have or can potentially have. These poker hand values from strongest to weakest are as follows:

Royal Flush
Straight Flush
Four of a Kind
Full House
Flush
Sraight
Three of a Kind
Two Pair
Pair
High Card

If two players at the same table have the same hand, such as two players have two pair, one with 7's and 5's and one with jacks and 6's, the higher hand wins. Since Jacks are more valuable than 7's, the tiebreaker goes to the player with the Jacks. Same goes for if two players had a straght, a flush or three of a kind or any poker hand for that matter. Highest value takes precedence. If two players both happen to have the same identical hand, they split the pot. This is because no one "suit" is higher than the other. (in almost all variations of poker)

Check out other areas of Poker-Times.com for information on specific poker games. We have'em all!

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