Originally a card game, poker has evolved into a series of different games. The earliest versions of the game originated in France, though recent scholarship has debated whether or not it was a European invention or a variation of a Persian game called As-Nas. Regardless of its origin, poker has become a popular and widely played card game in many countries. It is often played at private homes, in poker clubs, and in casinos. Although its popularity is greatest in the United States, it is played across the world.
A 52-card deck is used in most games. The deck is divided into four suits. The highest hand possible is a five of a kind. If there are two identical hands, a tie is broken by the highest unmatched card. In poker, a pair is comprised of two cards of the same suit. The joker counts as any suit for flush or straight.
After a deal, the dealer shuffles the deck. Each player gets seven cards. A player to the left of the dealer’s button is in the “first-to-act” position. The player to the right of the button shuffles the deck, then deals the cards to the remaining players. The dealer then passes the button clockwise after each hand.
Before the first betting interval begins, each player is required to bet one or more chips. This is known as a “raise.” The next round of betting begins between each of the previous rounds. When the last raise is made, the betting period ends. The first player to the left of the button is in the “call” position, and the dealer is in the “raise” position.
The player to the left of the button must then post the small blind and the big blind. The buttons are plastic disks in live poker, but a plastic card is also used in the electronic versions of the game.
Once the cards are dealt, the players may make a bet or they may bet that they have the best hand. If no one calls, the hand is said to be “stand pat.” This is the same as being all-in, except that the player is not eligible to win the pot if he folds. The best possible hand in any poker game is a five-card hand with an ace high and the same number of cards of the same suit.
A “backdoor flush” is achieved when the needed cards are hit on the turn and river. The lowest possible hand is 7-5-4-3-2 in two or more suits. The ace is treated as the lowest card in some games. The high card is an ace-queen high. A pair is a two-card hand with a pair of aces. The best possible straight is an 8-9.
The bluffing element in Poker is one of the reasons the game is so popular. Players try to convince others that they have the best hand. If a player bets a hand he does not have, he is bluffing. If a player bets he has the best hand, but is unable to match his bet, he is also bluffing.