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Online Poker Games

Online poker games are currently among the most popular forms of gambling on the Internet. The game of poker is also popular at land-based casinos, and the annual World Series of Poker continues to attract players and fans from around the world.

Poker is traditionally played by participants who bet on the value of cards in their hand. At the end of the hand, the winner is determined by who holds the cards with the highest value (poker rankings are discussed later in this article).

History of Poker

There is some confusion when it comes to the history of poker, as many experts disagree on whether modern-day poker originated from the Persian game of As Nas or the French card game Poque. Others trace its influences back to the Renaissance-era Primero and the French game Brelan, as well as the English game known as Brag.

What’s certain is that poker first appeared in the United States around 1829, and the original game featured a 20-card deck. The game spread on Mississippi riverboats, and the 52-card deck was soon introduced. Stud poker and draw poker debuted during the American Civil War, and community card poker would come along later in the 1920s.

Some of the significant developments of modern poker include:

  • The World Series of Poker begins in 1970. Early champions include Doyle Brunson, Amarillo Slim and Johnny Moss.
  • Poker strategy books begin to appear in the late 70s, including Super/System by Doyle Brunson and The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky.
  • Community card poker games appear in California in 1987.
  • Poker appears in Atlantic City, New Jersey, thus increasing its popularity and exposure.
  • The movie Rounders (starring Matt Damon and Edward Norton) is released in 1998. Players such as Chris Moneymaker and Jamie Gold have admitted to being inspired by the film.
  • Late Night Poker debuts on British television in 1999. This show was responsible for introducing a large number of Europeans to the game of poker.
  • The introduction of the hole-card camera makes poker more viewer-friendly to a television audience.
  • Online poker games begin to increase in popularity during the early 21st century. The game of Texas Hold’em becomes wildly popular.
  • Chris Moneymaker wins the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003, followed by Greg Raymer in 2004. Both men qualified by playing online, creating the impression that it was possible for anyone to win the event. Because of this, attendance has soared in subsequent years, and the popularity of poker is at an all-time high.

Poker Hand Rankings

Regardless of where you play, it’s always important to know the various poker rankings. Not only does this allow you to know who won the hand, but it’s invaluable when trying to determine a poker strategy. The rankings are, from highest to lowest:

  • Straight Flush - Made up of five cards in sequence, all of the same suit. Odds of getting this hand are 0.0015%.
  • Four of a Kind - Contains four cards of one rank and one unmatched card. Odds of receiving this hand are 0.024%. Also known as “quads.”
  • Full House - Contains three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank. Odds are 0.14% Also known as a Full Boat.
  • Flush - Contains five cards of the same suit, but not in order. Flushes are compared by the highest card in the hands. If there’s a tie, then the second-highest card is examined (and so on). Odds are 0.20%.
  • Straight - Five cards in sequential order, but not of the same suit. Straight are described by the highest card in the hand (Jack-high straight). Odds are 0.39%.
  • Three of a Kind - Contains three cards of the same rank and two unmatched cards. Also known as Trips or Set. Odds are 2.1%.
  • Two Pair - Two cards of the same rank, plus two more cards of another rank (which do not match the first pair), plus an unmatched card. Odds are 4.75%.
  • One Pair - Contains two cards of the same rank, plus three other unmatched cards. High pairs defeat low pairs. If pairs are the same, the highest unmatched card is used to break ties. Odds are 42.26%.
  • High Card - Also referred to as Garbage, this hand has none of the above. It’s simply a collection of unmatched cards. Odds are 50.12%.

How to Play Poker

The dealer is determined by a button which is passed around the table after each hand. This can also be used to determine which players are required to make blind bets (in Texas Hold’em, for example). In some poker games, an ante may also be required from players.

After the dealer shuffles, the player to his right cuts the cards. After the cards have been dealt, the first betting round takes place. In some poker games, there may only be one round of betting, while other games may have numerous rounds. In the meantime, players may receive additional cards or discard unwanted cards to improve their hand.

If all players except one “fold,” then the hand is over, and the remaining player wins the pot. If more than one player remains after the last betting round, a showdown occurs. Remaining players reveal their cards and determine the winner.

Some of the more notable places to find online poker games include:

  • Bodog
  • Party Poker
  • PokerStars
  • Full Tilt Poker

Online Poker Strategy

Poker strategy is continually evolving, and there are many tricks and tactics beyond the ones listed below. This list is intended to give you a basic overview of some of the most popular poker strategies being employed today.

  • Bluffing - Players bet as if they have a superior hand in order to force other players to fold.
  • Slow-Playing - A player with a strong hand bets weakly in order to trap his opponent into continuing to play the hand.
  • Players in “late position” (who act later during the betting round) have an advantage in that they get to see what their opponents do before they act. Position is regarded as an important element of poker strategy.
  • A player may raise to accomplish one of the following: get more money into the pot, bluff, gain information about his opponent’s hand and drive opponents out of the hand.
  • Players may call to avoid a re-raise, conceal the strength of their hand, manipulate the odds of the pot or set up a bluff for later in the round.
  • Tight players are those who mainly play strong hands, while loose players tend to play more (and weaker) hands.
  • Aggressive players will bluff and raise a great deal, while passive players will often be quick to fold. Passive play can also be used as a method of deception.

Online Poker Variants

Most online poker games can be divided into one of the following categories:

  • Stud Poker - The most common games of this type are Five-card Stud and Seven-card Stud. Players receive both face-down cards and face-up cards, with multiple rounds of betting taking place.
  • Draw Poker - Five-card draw is the most common example of this game. Players receive a full hand, face-down, and may discard and redraw a set number of cards.
  • Community Card Poker - Texas Hold’em and Omaha Hold’em are the most popular examples. Shared cards are dealt face-up, while each player also receives a certain number of face-down cards. Community cards and cards in the player’s hand are combined to make the best possible poker hand.

Other common poker variants include:

  • Lowball - In games such as Razz, the lowest poker hand wins the pot.
  • High-Low Split - The highest and lowest hands split the pot.
  • Pai Gow Poker - Player and dealer are dealt seven cards. The player must make a five-card hand and a two-card hand. To win, both of the player’s hands must beat the dealer’s hands.

Poker Hall of Fame

The Poker Hall of Fame was established by the Horseshoe Casino to honor a lifetime of achievement in the field of poker. New members are inducted each year, and potential honorees must meet the following requirements:

  • Player must have the respect of their peers.
  • Player must have competed against the top competition of their era.
  • Player must have engaged in high stakes poker games.

The current membership of the Poker Hall of Fame includes:

  • Johnny Moss
  • “Nick the Greek” Dandolos
  • Felton “Corky” McCorquodale
  • Red Winn
  • Sid Wyman
  • “Wild Bill” Hickok
  • Edmond Hoyle
  • T. “Blondie” Forbes
  • Bill Boyd
  • Tom Abdo
  • Joe Bernstein
  • Murph Harrold
  • Red Hodges
  • Henry Green
  • Walter Clyde “Puggy” Pearson
  • Doyle Brunson
  • Jack “Treetop” Straus
  • Fred “Sarge” Ferris
  • Benny Binion
  • David “Chip” Reese
  • Amarillo Slim
  • Jack Keller
  • “Little Man” Popwell
  • Roger Moore
  • Stu Ungar
  • Lyle Berman
  • Johnny Chan
  • Bobby Baldwin
  • Berry Johnston
  • Jack Binion
  • Crandall Addington
  • T.J. Cloutier
  • Billy Baxter
  • Barbara Enright
  • Phil Hellmuth

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