So you've seen Rounders, and the idea of taking Matt Damon for everything he's worth seems appealing to you. Or maybe you haven't seen the movie and still find that appealing. Whatever your motivation, you want to learn how to play poker, a time-tested card game that has the distinction of being one of the most ancient forms of gambling. Good for you. But before you strap on the green visor and throw down your life's savings, you re going to have to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.
Poker, at its very essence, is a simple game. Its countless versions can be quite complex, however, which is why we're going to focus on 5-Card Draw (a.k.a. "regular" poker), the easiest one for beginners to learn. Later we'll tell you about some of the other variations of the game, but for now, it's gonna be 5-Card Draw, so you're just going to have to deal. Get it? "Deal?" Sorry.
Poker is played with a standard deck of 52 playing cards (except for Ross Perot Poker, which is played with less than a full deck). The cards are ranked from high to low in the following order: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Aces are ALWAYS high. Aces are worth more than Kings which are worth more than Queens which are worth more than Jack, and so on. The cards are also separated into four suits. The suits are:
But you already knew that from playing Go Fish, right? The suits are all of equal value, meaning that no suit is more valuable than another. It's a very democratic game.
Each player is dealt five cards. The object of the game is to end up with the highest-valued hand. From best to worst, hands are ranked in the following order:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- One Pair
- High Card