Number of Players: 2 – 10
Year of Publication: 1810
So the time has come to review the almighty Poker. Now I must admit to not actually being able to play poker before learning it to write this review. This is not to say I hadn’t played it before, I had a couple of times, but always while being guided like a baby by people who were already in the know. I find this is a bad way to learn games because as well as learning the rules you tend to learn things that aren’t the rules and are just made up by these people, but they’ve convinced themselves they are the rules, and also things that are part of the rules get forgotten. As I’m sure some of you are aware there are like a million different versions of poker, but this is a review specifically of the five card draw version. We will endeavour to play and review all versions of poker in the future (over the next 20 – 60 years) but we thought this was a good starting point.
What’s In The Box:
To play poker all you really need is a standard 52 card deck. However, we used our Jack Daniels Poker Set which contained:
- 1 52 deck of Jack Daniels Cards.
- 10 x Black Chips.
- 10 x White Chips.
- 1 x Small Bottle of Jack Daniels Old No.7.
Playing The Game:
Objective: To have the highest ranking hand after two rounds of betting. Also to take all the other peoples money, until everyone else goes bust.
Now for a good and clear set of exact rules to this game see here (these are the rules we learnt from).
To start choose to play the game either with or without betting. It’s far more fun with betting:
With betting you set a starting bet, which is the bet everyone has to put down just to be dealt cards. We set it as one white chip and we decided black chips where worth two white chips. Once the starting bet is placed by everyone five cards are dealt to each player by the dealer. The players then look at those cards and, from the left of the dealer, choose to either:
- CALL – The player decides to match whatever’s already in the pot. If no one has put anything extra in the pot this means they put nothing in.
- RAISE – The player decides to raise the pot (normally you set a maximum raise, we set it as one black chip). They do this by adding more money to it. Any player who then wants to stay in the round has to match the amount they’ve added.
- FOLD – The player decides there’s no point continuing with the round and folds by not matching the raise in the pot and puts their cards face down on the table, taking care not to show any of the other players their cards.
After that round of betting anyone who owes the pot anything (because it was raised after their turn to bet) decides whether to call it or to fold. Then each player, from the left of the dealer, then has the chance to switch up to three cards in their hand. Once each player has done this another round of betting is done, exactly like the first, and then cards are revealed.
The person with the highest hand wins the round and claims the pot. The hands are (listed from highest to lowest):
Five of a Kind – A five of a kind (which is only possible when using wild cards) is the highest possible hand. If more than one hand has five of a kind, the higher card wins (Five Aces beats five kings, which beat five queens, and so on).
Straight Flush – A straight flush is the best natural hand. A straight flush is a straight (5 cards in order, such as 5-6-7-8-9) that are all of the same suit. As in a regular straight, you can have an ace either high (A-K-Q-J-T) or low (5-4-3-2-1). However, a straight may not ‘wraparound’. (Such as K-A-2-3-4, which is not a straight). An Ace high straight-flush is called a Royal Flush and is the highest natural hand.
Four of a Kind – Four of a kind is simply four cards of the same rank. If there are two or more hands that qualify, the hand with the higher-rank four of a kind wins. If, in some bizarre game with many wild cards, there are two four of a kinds with the same rank, then the one with the higher card outside the four wins. General Rule: When hands tie on the rank of a pair, three of a kind, etc, the cards outside break ties following the High Card rules.
Full House – A full house is a three of a kind and a pair, such as K-K-K-5-5. Ties are broken first by the three of a kind, then the pair. So K-K-K-2-2 beats Q-Q-Q-A-A, which beats Q-Q-Q-J-J. (Obviously, the three of a kind can only be similar if wild cards are used.)
Straight – A straight is 5 cards in order, such as 4-5-6-7-8. An ace may either be high (A-K-Q-J-T) or low (5-4-3-2-1). However, a straight may not ‘wraparound’. (Such as Q-K-A-2-3, which is not a straight). When straights tie, the highest straight wins. (A-K-Q-J-T beats K-Q-J-T-9 down to 5-4-3-2-A). If two straights have the same value (A-K-Q-J-T vs A-K-Q-J-T) they split the pot.
Three of a Kind – Three cards of any rank, matched with two cards that are not a pair (otherwise it would be a Full House). Again, highest three of a kind wins. If both are the same rank, then compare High Cards.
Two Pair – This is two distinct pairs of cards, and a 5th card. The highest pair wins ties. If both hands have the same high pair, the second pair wins. If both hands have the same pairs, the high card wins.
High Card – This is any hand which doesn’t qualify as any one of the above hands. If nobody has a pair or better, then the highest card wins. If multiple people tie for the highest card, they look at the second highest, then the third highest etc. High card is also used to break ties when the high hands both have the same type of hand (pair, flush, straight, etc).
Hand descriptions loving borrowed from: http://www.contrib.andrew.cmu.edu/~gc00/reviews/pokerrules
As you may have gathered from those descriptions you can play with the jacks as well, these are wild cards and allow the Five of a Kind had to be played. Also you can play Aces high or low depending on how you’re feeling.
Now there are whole books on poker strategy and the art of reading a persons tell, etc. But I’m not even going to pretend to know even 0.001% of that information. HOWEVER, this is a list of things you should keep in mind when playing with very low level amateurs:
- THEY’RE PROBABLY BLUFFING – The other player is probably bluffing because it’s far more fun than not bluffing, especially if you’re not betting anything of real worth. They’re almost definitely going to bluff rather than go out.
- KNOW WHICH HANDS ARE WORTH WHAT – This is hardly a strategy comment more a comment of common sense, but having just learnt the game I made quite a few mistakes by not knowing what was worth more that what.
- DON’T BET ANYTHING OF WORTH – If you’re learning the game don’t go straight into high stakes betting, it’ll just make you hate each other and give the person who wins false confidence is their poker skills.
History and Interesting Things:
Again there’s whole books full of history and interesting things on poker so I’ll just cover a few:
- One of the earliest recorded uses of the game is by Joseph Cowell who wrote that it was played in New Orleans in 1829 with a 20 deck of cards.
- The exact origins of the game are uncertain.
- While there are a LOT of different versions of poker there are only four main categories of poker and these are; Straight poker, Draw poker (what this is, as the name might tell you), Stud poker and Community Card poker.
- It is possible the most popular card game of all time.
- It is probably the most popular gambling game of all time.
- It has featured as plot devices in many films and books including the James Bond film/book Casino Royale and in many other Bond films. It has also been shown as a common recreational activity in films and TV shows alike. For example in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the film How to Lose a Guy in Tew Days.
- The example of poker in film and TV mirrors the spike in interest in it that happened in the 21st century. With the introduction of online poker and hole-card cameras it became a spectator sport and something you could do from the comfort of your own home.
- With this spike and the ability to make it a spectator sport many poker tours emerged, including World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour, both of which were televised.
- In 2009 the International Federation of Poker was founded to be its governing body and to promote it.
- They then launched two new events; The Nations Cup which was held on the London Eye and The Table which featured 130 of the best poker players in the world.
Poker is an interesting game and I can see why it has mass appeal. However, can someone please explain to me the appeal of online poker? Apart from the fact you don’t have to get out of the chair by your computer or off your bed with your laptop why would you gamble with people whose faces you can’t see? Does that not defeat the whole point of trying to read peoples tells and take away a large part of the whole psychology of the game? Correct me if I’m wrong.
Also, we all know Casinos fix games in their favour (and who can blame them? It would’t make a very good business if they didn’t) but to gamble online in any form is surly to leave yourself open to an even larger con? I could write a fixed version of any gambling game as a computer program in like a day and I’m a bad programmer. With poker there’s less of a fear of this because everyone playing is supposed to be a real person and there is no “house” to take the money… Eccept how do you know all these people are real and one of then isn’t the “house” and the game isn’t fixed in their favour? I’m half tempted to write a fixed version of poker, put it online, and see how many people I could convince to play it… Except then I could be arrested for all kinds of things… But it would make for a rather interesting experiment/business… But anyway, I have digressed.
Back to the point, poker is a good game, if you don’t know how to play it, learn as undoubtedly you’ll be somewhere with some people and they’ll be like “lets play poker” and you’ll be that one person who doesn’t know how to play and they’ll “teach you” but in that way where you only ever really pick up half of it.