His Majesty King Poker

November 16, 2009 |

History of poker

Poker is a game played all over the world. A game similar to poker was first mentioned in 1526. Then, in the earlier poker games the hands were formed by combining three cards. The game was called Primero in Spain and Italy and “La prime” in France. It included a betting round and the winning combinations were as follows: three cards of the same rank, pairs and three cards of the same suit known as Flush.

In 1700 the players were dealt five cards and bluffing as a tactic appeared. The game then was called Brag in England, Pochen in Germany and Poque in France. In these games bluffing (making high stakes without having strong hand in order to make other players fold) was a very important element. It is also possible that the French Poque descended from the German Pochen.

In games Brag, Pochen and Poque there was only one betting round. The showdown (when the players show their cards in order to determine the winner) took place immediately after the end of the round. The hand ranking was as follows: four of a kind, full house, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, no pair (high card).

Poker was brought to America by the French colonists who first settled in Louisiana and then up the Missouri River and across the country. The modern version of poker was first mentioned in 1829 in memoirs of the traveling across America English actor Joe Cowell. In 1834 the game was played with a 52- card deck. Poker is still the most popular card game in the United States.

Robert C. Schenk, the American diplomatic representative to the United Kingdom was responsible the game to become popular in Europe again. Persuaded by Queen Victoria and her court, he wrote down the rules of poker. The game became known as “Schenk’s poker” but it was spread throughout Europe later, during the First World War by the soldiers of the American Expeditionary Force.

Basic rules of poker

There are a lot of poker variations but all of them are based on the classical rules of the game. The game is usually played with 52-card deck. The card ranking from lowest to highest is: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace. Five- card poker combinations from lowest to highest are as follows: high card, a pair, two pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, royal flush. The purpose of the game is to form the best (the highest) possible combination and to win the pot. During the game players place some bets. If a player does not place a bet, he is out of the game and can’t win the pot. There are different betting rounds. After each betting round, players may have the opportunity to replace a card/ cards or to get additional card / cards. At the showdown, the players compare their hands and the one with the highest combination is the winner.

Stages of the game

Before the cards are dealt, players place their initial (forced) bet, called Ante. After that each player is dealt five cards.

First betting round – after the cards are dealt, players place their bets (clockwise). They have the right to check (to stay in the game without placing a bet), open the round i.e. make a voluntary bet call and to bet. If the first player does not open the round, theright passes to the next player (clockwise). If all the players don’t place any bets, the round is over. After the first bet is placed, players have the right to fold (give back their cards and drop out of the hand), to call (to match the bet of the previous player or the highest bet) and to raise (to increase the size of the bet of the previous player).

Betting structure

Ante – a forced (initial) bet where an equal amount of chips is placed by the players before the cards are dealt (usually used in stud and draw poker).

Blinds – the blind bet made before or right after the cards are dealt.

Big Blind – a blind bet equal to the minimum bet.

Small Blind – usually the half of the Big Blind.

There are different types of betting such as no limit (the amount of bet is without limitation), pot limit (players are not allowed to place a bet more than the size of the pot), fixed limit (the amount you can bet is fixed) and spread limit (within a certain range, players are allowed to place different amounts of bets).

Poker variants

The most popular poker variants are: stud poker such as five card stud, six card stud, seven card stud etc. (players are dealt face up and face down cards in multiple betting rounds); draw poker such as five card draw, lowball etc. (before the first betting round players are dealt hidden hand and then have the opportunity to replace card/ cards); community cards poker such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hold’em, Pineapple Hold’em etc.(players share the cards dealt face up i.e. the community cards in order to form their hands).

Common poker strategy

By strategy we mean the system or the planned actions of a player solely in order to win the pot. Here are some strategy tips:

–         always play at a table with a large number of players – there is always be a player who plays worse than you;

–         you need to study the style of the players in order to know what to expect – some of them prefer bluffing, others prefer drawing card / cards after on the second betting round etc;

–         pay attention to the position – usually the late positions are considered to be the most advantageous to the player;

–         players’ odds of winning should always be better than the pot odds;

–         get familiar with the poker probabilities;

Styles of playing

Aggressive playing style – player always raises instead of calling and bets instead of checking. Usually this type of players bet, raise and re-raise.

Passive playing style – player does not raise even when he has a strong hand. This type of players usually check or call.

Weak playing style – a player that folds when somebody raises.

Tight playing style – player plays few hands and only when holding a strong hand.

Loose playing style – player plays lots of hands having weaker hands.

Maniac  – player who raises and re-raises a lot not having strong hands.

Fish – usually a not experienced player, a new player.

Rock – a tight player.

Shark – a tight and aggressive player. This type of players plays usually strong hands when they are in good position.

Bomb – an extremely aggressive player. This type of players usually use bluffing and semi- bluffing.

Calling station – a loose and a passive player. This type of players usually calls very often and prefers other players to do the betting.

Tilt – “going on tilt” means that the player makes unwise decisions out of frustration.

Each of these styles has its own advantages and disadvantages but we can draw the following general conclusions:

–         Players who change the strategy and are flexible win against the players using permanent strategies;

–         Tight players win against loose ones;

–         Tight aggressive players win against tight passive players;

–         Tight tables win against a tight player;

–         Loose tables win against a loose player;

–         Aggressive tables win against an aggressive player;

–         Passive tables win against a passive player;

Playing against an opponent with a distinct playing style, you need to make different tactical decisions and change them depending on your opponent actions. If all the players around the table play the same style, you need to use another style in order to win.

Psychological techniques in poker

There are six basic psychological techniques in poker:

Bluffing – this is when a player with a weak hand hopes that his opponents will believe he has a strong hand and they will fold. Bluffing is a good strategy against poor players who can fold at any time, even if they have a good chance to win.

Advertise – this method shows other players that a player enters the game with weak hand.

Represent – it shows the other players that the player has a certain combination of cards. This technique is similar to bluff and its main purpose is to make other players fold.

Angle – this is when a player with weak hand forces other players to make high stakes with weak hands.

Check-raise – this is a raise after a check.

Slowplay – this is when a player with strong hand checks and calls instead of raising. The technique is intended to make other players think that he has a weak hand and make them enter the game with mediocre or weak hands.

Mathematical aspects of poker

The mathematical basis of Poker consists of a series of probabilities. For example, if you know that the chance to form a pair of kings when you have only one king and you need to replace four cards is 1 to 3, you will never play such a weak hand. But if you have a pair of kings, the chance to form a three of a kind is much higher.

Therefore, poker players use the following mathematics:

–         the probability of drawing a certain combination of cards when the cards are dealt;

–         the probability of improving the initial hand by replacing or using additional cards;

–         the probability of losing or winning with different combinations;

Given these probabilities, the following strategic decisions in poker are to be calculated:

Poker odds – this means the coefficient of winning or losing probability. Knowing the given quantity, players decide whether to bet, raise or fold. If a player’s odds are much greater than his opponents’, then the player’s task is to make the game particularly detrimental to his opponents.

Pot odds – this is the ratio of the total amount of money in the pot (bank) to the amount of money the player has to place in case of calling. The greater the pot odds are, the greater is the expected profit of the player in case he calls.

Rules in the casino and your first game

Knowing some simple rules of etiquette and gambling will help you to get used to the new situation, if you play poker for the first time. Do not hesitate to ask the dealer to explain you the rules of the game – it is part of his/her duties as well as selling poker chips, shuffling and dealing cards etc. Different casinos have different requirements for shuffling but usually they are as follows: the deck should be shuffled three times. After that it should be split into two approximately equal parts. The cards are to be dealt clockwise starting with the player sitting to the left of the dealer. During the game do not touch the cards or the chips of other players as well as the pile of burned and folded cards or the community cards and chips in the pot. Do not allow anybody to see your cards, unless you have decided playing for charity. In case some of the other players react in advance, do not act like them, it is unethical. If one of them acts when is your turn, say “Time!” or “Wait!” You can use the same words if you need some time to decide, otherwise your delay may be accepted as “check”. A bad behaviour is as well to throw your chips into the pot (splash the pot) instead of placing them. You also have the right to take some rest – the dealer will tell you how long you can rest but it is usually 20-30 minutes.

This is an introduction of one of the most popular and most famous games in the world played by artists, composers, writers, kings and queens. So, please, meet the world famous, the extraordinary, the incomparable and unique His Majesty King Poker.

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