Poker History, Rules, and Variations

A Brief History of Poker

Poker is a card game involving different difficulty and skill levels. It is said to be similar to a game played by the ancient Persians, and that is where, most people believe, the game originated from. From there it came across the seas to England. Once in England, the game initially was a favorite in the taverns and dockyards; however, it later attracted patrons from the nobility and the landed gentry as well. However, there is no definitive indicator regarding the game's actual place of origin.

Different countries have had different versions of the game in the early years. In Ireland, another version of the game, Poca, meaning pocket, was hugely popular. In Germany, there was pochen, meaning 'to bluff'; while in France they had poque.

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Basic Poker rules

There are basic rules in poker for the players to follow. There are also rules related to the card deck. We will take a look at this next.

Rules for Players

The minimum number of players for a poker game is 2, while the maximum number is 14. However, a single game should have ideally 5 to 8 players. Each poker player plays for himself with the goal of winning the pot. Two hands with identical cards make for a tie, in which case the players divide the pot. If two hands show the same pair, the card with the higher rank wins. An example: QQ875 wins over QQ842.

Rules for the Card Deck

In clubs, players can ask for a fresh sealed pack for a game. The pack is unwrapped from the cellophane and opened in full view of all the players.

A single pack used for poker has 52 cards with the addition of one or two jokers. To speed up the game, two packs of contrasting colors are used. While the first pack is dealt, the other is shuffled in readiness for the next deal.

In the next deal, the previous dealer gathers the cards he dealt and shuffles them. He places the dealt cards to the left. In the following deal, the shuffled cards are given to the next dealer. In two pack games, the dealer's opponent on the left-hand cuts the pack, not the player on his right-hand.

Hierarchy of Poker Hands

There is a definitive hierarchy of hands in poker, which makes it easier to decide who wins a game. Within each hand, there is a hierarchy that depends on the value of the cards.

The highest hand in poker is the five-of-a-kind. This is a combination of three cards of the same rank and two wild cards (jokers) or two cards of the same rank with three wild cards. In a game where there is no wild card, the straight flush is the highest-ranking hand.
The lower poker hands are:

? Full House - A combination of three cards of the same rank and a pair.
? Four-of-a-Kind A combination of four cards of the same rank. The lone card does not matter.
? Flush - This is a hand of five cards of the same suit. However, the numbers are not in sequence. An example is a Jack suit of 97642.
? Straight - Unlike the flush, the numbers are in sequence but of different suits.
? Two Pairs A pair of similar rank and another pair of a lower or higher rank. The last card is of a different rank (JJ995).
? One pair This is a frequent combination in poker games. Three cards of different ranks and suit accompany a pair.
? No Pair This is the lowest ranked among all poker hands. Within this hand, a hand with a higher value of cards can beat other lower ranking No Pair poker hand.