History of Poker
It is not known exactly where the original rules of poker games come from. There are several theories, but in the sense that poker is a game of skill and players play against each other rather than against the house, it arrived in the US at the latest by 1800. Various changes and additional rules were developed during 1800s. It was played at least in the New Orleans region and spread from there during the American Civil War.
Poker became much more popular in the 1970s when modern tournament play was introduced. It was featured in popular culture and several movies. World Series of Poker made several people rather famous and wealthy in the latter part of the 20th century. The rise of the professional poker player was at least partly due to poker strategy books published during that period. The games became much more competitive.
At the end of the century, when several online poker rooms started offering real-money online poker games, poker became even more popular. Online poker made the game into a spectator sport and tournaments broadcast on cable TV brought in massive audiences. Celebrity winners and the huge money that poured into online games, made the market boom. The popularity of poker slowed for a while after the introduction of Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in the US. This made playing poker online illegal and all the US players were out overnight. However poker still growing and even some US states have now regulated the online market. One example is the state of New Jersey where PokerStars, the biggest player on the online poker market, has an operating license.
How to Play Poker
Texas Hold’em Poker, and all other variations of poker, is played on a specific poker table where the dealer deals the cards clockwise from the so-called dealer button. The button goes to the left next player after the round. Playing Texas Hold’em, depending on the position of the button, the next two players are required to do a minimum bet called ante or blind. This happens before any card is given to the player (thus a blind bet).
The player to the left of the dealer button, the “big blind”, starts “talking” (checking of making a bet). Depending on the perceived strength of his hand he/she may, check (make no bet), or bet. In Texas Hold’em the minimum first bet is double the amount of the big blind.
A poker hand develops over the course of the game and players place bets on how they feel their hand might compare to the other players at the table. The bets are placed in a pot at the centre of the table after each round of betting. If a player bets, all the rest of the players clockwise to his/her position will either have to call, raise, or fold.
If nobody calls or raise, the bettor will win the current pot.
This is a very important feature of poker, because if everyone folds, the bettor never has to show his cards. This allows players to bluff. Regardless of the poker variant and the amount of cards dealt to each, the hand is always made out of a combination of 5 cards.
The last round of betting ends with a showdown, where the players show their cards and the best poker hand will be decided. The winner will take the pot.
Variants of poker
There are several variants of poker with varying rules. In some, such as 7 card stud poker, players are dealt 2 additional cards and they make the possible 5-card hand from the combination. One of the most popular poker variants played all over the world is poker with community cards. Example of these games are Texas Hold’em and Omaha. In these games players only get part of the cards facedown and the rest are dealt on the table face-up. Each player then builds the hand as a combination of his hidden cards and the cards on the table.
There are other games that really are not poker, but use the name like Video Poker. The game uses the same poker hand ranking, but the game is played against a machine and the main point that makes regular poker a game of skill is missing (bluffing).
Classic Video Poker slots online and arcade machines include “Jacks or Higher”, where the player wins if the hand contains a pair of jacks or a higher value combination of 5 cards. The player is allowed to choose cards, to change for new ones, two times to increase chances of winning.
Playing online poker
The are several poker sites online where it’s possible to play poker against other players for real money. Many online casinos offer poker on their sites with cash tables as well as various tournament tables. To play, one may have to download a special poker software client on their computer or mobile device to play. This assures the best possible player experience.
Online casinos offering poker often give new players a generous welcome match bonus on their first poker deposits. This varies site by site, but can be as much a €1000 bonus. Furthermore, there are other benefits such as rakeback bonus, which can be quite high especially for loyal VIP players.
All the poker sites today offer various tournaments and freerolls. There are new player tournaments where the player gets in a tournament without paying the buy-in prize. Some tournaments are available for a nominal or greatly reduced cost. Tournament payout structure and other details obviously vary a lot. There is a lot out there for all levels and budgets of players. It is advisable to start from the smaller games before moving to cash games with too highly skilled poker sharks.
Playing poker online is a very popular hobby and for some people even a profession. Many people dream of making a consistent paycheck from playing online. You can by practise build an edge against lower-skilled players and win money in the long term. However, for every winner there must be a loser and poker can be very addictive. You should never play with more money than you can afford to lose, Rule #1. Poker has a skill-element to it, but part of the game is chance, so even good players can lose a lot of money in the short run. There are known cases of even professional players going broke by mismanaging of their bankroll.