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How to Play Poker

January 24th, 2014 Games

While it has been around for many years, the popularity of poker has grown immensely in the last decade due in part to online demand and mainstream success. Every day, millions of people sit down and stack their chips in hope of coming away with some substantial winnings. But it can be difficult to know where to start in terms of learning the rules. Luckily, you can learn how to play poker and its most popular variation - Texas Hold 'em - here.

The set up
Once you have gathered your friends around the table for a game, deal out one card face up to each player. In poker, the cards rank from the lowest number (2) to the highest face card (Ace) in terms of value. The player dealt the highest valued card is the dealer for the first hand. 

Next, you need to dole out your chips. Most poker chips come in multicolored stacks to use in games. Because it's your own set-up, you can decide how to value each chip. For instance, your set may come with four different colored stacks and you can value them as such: whites are 1, reds are 5, blues are 10 and greens are 25. How you do it is completely up to you. You can ask your friends' opinion as well. 

The play
The player two spots over from the dealer is the big blind, and the player closest to the dealer is small blind. The blinds rotate around the table as the game goes on and entices players to bet and put money in the pot. The dealer then shuffles the deck and deals every player two cards, one at a time going clockwise around the table. Once the players have their cards, the person to left of the big blind begins the betting. He or she may "call" (bet an amount equal to the big blind), "raise" (bet an amount larger than the big blind) or "fold" (quit the round and hand in his or her cards). There is also the option to "check" if you don't want to make a bet, but if someone increases the minimum bet on the table, you must either call or fold. Play goes around the table and each player decides their move. Once the betting is done, the dealer puts one card face down (called the "burn card") and then deals the three-card "flop" face up in the middle of the table. This is how players make their hands.

Each player's two cards that they were dealt at the beginning of the hand are used to create a five-card hand at the end. For a list of rankings on hand values, check out this overview from Poker Listings.

Every betting round after the flop starts with the player to the dealer's left and continues clockwise. People either check, bet, call, raise or fold. Once the betting ends, the dealer puts down another burn card and deals out one face up - this is "the turn." More betting ensues, leading to the final round: the river.

Winning
Once the river is dealt, a final betting round begins. After everyone has made their move, the first player to the dealer's left who's still in the game reveals their hand. One by one, everyone shows their best hand in hope of securing the pot. Once the winner is determined, the dealer responsibilities are handed over to the player who was the small blind and rotates around the table until everyone is either out of chips or quits.

Learning how to play poker can be a challenging but fun task to take on. Playing with friends is a great way to keep everyone together and gets people off the couch for a change. Try it out soon and see how much you enjoy it!