What Makes a Poker Game?
When you think of poker, you probably think of Texas Holdem. Holdem is the most recognized form of poker, after all. The truth is, though, Texas Holdem is just one of many forms of poker, including games like Stud and Omaha. So, what makes a card game a form of poker?
Well, there are a couple of things that make a card game fall into the poker category. Mostly, it has to do with hand rankings and betting rounds. In other words, poker games have to do with betting, based on whether or not your hand is the best according to a pre-determined hand ranking.
Also, most poker games have a betting setup that consists of forced bets called antes or blinds, as well as several rounds of betting per hand. Antes are bets placed by all players at the start of a hand. Blinds are placed by just two players at the start of a hand. Poker games usually feature one forced bet type or the other.
All poker games share these basics in common, yet one version of poker can be completely different from the next. That's why it's important to know the rules of the game that you are playing. For example, are you playing a stud game, a community game or a draw game?
Holdem is a community game. That's because it features community cards that can be used by all players. A draw game would be something like 5 Card Draw. Draw games involved each player getting their own cards, but being able to trade in some cards for new ones. Stud games involve each player getting their own cards, but some of the cards are dealt face up, so that the other players can see them. 7 Card Stud is one of the most popular Stud games.
In most poker games, there are betting rounds in between each of several cards being dealt. Play usually circulates to the left and players have the options to call the current bet, raise, fold or, if they have already matched the bet, check. Usually, the person with the highest ranking hand at the end wins. However, in Hi/Lo games, both the high hand and the low hand win and they split the pot. Also, in some games, such as Razz, only the low hand wins.
As for how to win, poker games usually have two ways to win. Either all but one person fold their cards and the hand ends with the remaining player getting all the chips or there's a showdown. A showdown happens when two or more players stay in the hand until the end of the final betting round. At that point, the remaining players show their cards and the best hand is determined. The winner takes the chips.
Regardless of the similarities in general structure, all poker games are different. So, be sure to learn the rules of the specific game that you want to play. One way to do that is to practice for free online. You could also read the rules online, read books on the subject, play at home with family and friends or just watch a game being played. Any of those are good ways to make sure that you know your way around the poker tables.