Poker is a family of casino card games where players place their bets over cards that are face up or lie down, then try to beat the poker odds by acting out strategies to beat the poker odds. Poker can be played with two, three, four or five players, with a limit set on how many players can play at any one time. There is also no maximum hand limit in poker. A “low card” is any card in a player’s hand that does not move across the table; “high card” is any card that either changes in value over the course of a poker hand, or is raised above the low card.
In order to place a bet, first a player must call, or raise, a poker bet. Once a player has called, or raised, a poker bet, he may take his second, third or fourth card (the fifth is referred to as the “low card” in poker) and place it in the middle of the poker table in position over the blinds or in the pot if there is one. Then a player may look at his cards, and choose to either pass the hand if there are low cards, or keep playing and passing the hand if there are high cards. If a player chooses to take his third card, a player may immediately call, raise or fold if he has raised or called, in accordance with the current poker odds. Calling raises, which remove a single card from the hand, are executed one at a time, while folding simply bounces a single card to the table.
Once a player has raised or called, the betting session enters what is called the flop. At the flop, each player in the game receives five cards face up in the pot (unless a player has brought all five cards to his table – called a multi-action – which is different). After the flop, each player may execute one of two general plays:
The full-money bet. This is an extremely risky and popular play, because it can sometimes net the player a huge profit, but also exposes the inexperienced to big losses. In the face of strong hands, a player may raise and bet, expecting that his opponent will fold immediately; this often results in a “tight” hand. Against such tight hands, the best choice is usually to fold – after all, there’s no money in it. However, if a player folds badly, it’s usually because that particular hand was simply not strong enough to hold. It is also fairly common for inexperienced players to bet out of positions, and simply hope that their opponent will fold to a poor-looking hand: this is called an emotional bet, and can be very dangerous in poker.
The raise. This is the most common poker move. It is performed by both raising and calling, with the pre-flop bet being made equal to the value of the raise. After the flop, if the total pot is still on the table, a player can either call, raise or fold. All of these moves result in betting on the flop. The raise plays well when the other player hasn’t made an obvious continuation bet, or has a poor hand.
The call. This is another common poker move. A player who makes a call simply announces the presence of another player that he must confront. If played carefully, this move can be successful – if there is an opponent weak against a particular move, it might be possible to bait him into making a poor decision, or fold to the trap. However, a player who calls just because he has been called is not displaying a poker face at all, and is more likely to make bluffs and lose a big pot in the process.