Did you know that poker in all its wonderful forms, is the most played card game in the world? It’s popularity has grown by leaps and bounds since the days of the casinos and poker rooms in the back of the saloons of the old west in America, and more people today are enjoying the card game that “separates the men from the boys”. Turn on the TV any time of any day, and you will find some kind of a poker tournament in progress under the scrutiny of the cameras, and the MC whispering into the mike of who he thinks holds the best poker hands.
Any game you play today has rules and regulations, and poker is no different. The basics of the more common forms of poker is that the individual cards are ranked in ascending value from 2 (low) to Ace (high); and unlike some other card games, suits have no value when ranking hands or tallying points. In lowball games of poker, where the best poker hands are the lowest valued hands (just the opposite of the traditional games of poker); Ace plays low only when you are playing lowball games in A to 5, and A to 6, and in 2 to 7 lowball the Ace plays high. But traditionally, the high cards are the Ace, then the King, Queen, Jack, and 10 in descending order; and the best poker hands are those with the highest value in the hand.
In order to be an effective poker player, you must understand the hierarchy of card combinations that can win the hand you are playing. Starting from the least important hand to the highest combo you could get, the list runs as such: high cards, 1 pair, 2 pair, 3 of a kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, 4 of a kind, Straight Flush. Remember that suits have no value in poker and that thought should always be included in your calculations when you are evaluating the best poker hands. Suits are used only to determine whether a hand fits into a certain category, for example flush and straight flush hands. What makes a flush a flush, is that the run of 5 cards is made up of all the same suit, not whether that suit is diamonds or spades, etc. If 2 players have the identical numbered cards in a straight flush, and for example one was 3,4,5,6,7 of spades; and the other run was 3,4,5,6,7 of diamonds-the spades are not higher than the diamonds, the hands are tied and the players must split the pot.
So to get the upper hand at the poker table, not only must you know what constitutes the best poker hands, but you must also know how to bid correctly on the hand that is dealt to you. Sometimes the bidding can get pretty hairy and nerve wracking because every player is trying to outwit the player sitting next to him or across the table from him, and decide if those other players really have the type of hand they seem to have because of their bidding; or are they sitting without any good cards at all and trying to take you to the cleaners by bluffing. Having a good “poker face” is mandatory, because all at the table are watching to see if your expression gives away what’s in your hand.
The old adage, “experience is the best teacher” is just as true with poker as it is in any other area of life. Playing with all degrees of experienced players will get you the knowledge you will need to face off with the players around the table and play your dealt hand to the fullest. There is a lot to be said for having lots of experience in the field you are acting in, and the old cowboy song of “know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em”; certainly rings true here. Nothing will prepare you better for understanding and recognizing the best poker hands like good old experience, so try to get as much of it under your belt as you can.
Another very important facet of learning poker and playing well, is to be informed about all the different kinds of poker there are, and how they differ one from the other; and how the rules vary depending upon what type of poker you happen to be playing. Knowing how to play poker well and take advantage of the best poker hands when they come along is tantamount; and you can find any information you need if you look for it. The best source by far for information about poker, how to play, how to win, how to bid, and what the rules are as well as the different types of poker, can all be found on many sites on the Internet that are devoted to poker. Available to you also on the Internet, are sites that allow you to sit in on poker games in progress and test your skills against the other players—no money is needed to play.
There would be a giant void in this old world of ours if there were no poker games going on and millions of people counting those poker games as their most desirable means of entertainment. Poker has become an integral part of our lives and so much so that expressions have come down through the years that originated with poker and stuck as part of our lexicon; expressions such as “when the chips are down” and “poker face”. Whether you are a seasoned player of poker, or a novice just getting used to the ropes and chasing the hope of getting one of those best poker hands that everyone talks about; you will find that poker has a certain mystique about it for the participants, and packs a wallop as far as fun and suspense go. No doubt about it, poker is the king of card games.