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A beginners guide on how to play poker

From a purely recreational and underground activity played by small groups of men in dark rooms, poker has now become a global and hugely popular activity which boasts international audiences and multi-million pound tournament prizes. Yet despite its growing popularity and acceptance into the mainstream, many

people still perceive poker as being overtly-complicated, so for their benefit let's simplify things

Cards on the Table

Knowing the value of the cards on the table is essential if you want to play poker. The lowest scoring card is the humble number two and each successive card from three to ten grows in value alongside its corresponding number. The face cards, from weakest to strongest are, the jack, queen, and king, topped off by the all powerful ace.

It's all in the Hands

Before you play poker, you need to familarise yourself with the basic poker hands. A 'Pair' is when you hold two identical cards from different suits in your hands, such as the queen of hearts and queen of diamonds. A 'two pair' is pretty self explanatory and means your are holding two separate pairs. 'Three of a kind' and 'four of a kind' means three and four cards of equal value respectively. A 'full house' is a combination of three of a kind and a pair, and a 'Straight' entails you are holding five consecutive cards which can come from any suit but rise in value consecutively such, as a ten, jack, queen, king, and ace. A 'flush' means you are holding five random cards from the same suit, and that rarest of hands -  the 'royal flush,' is a straight flush and highly sought after by anyone who's ever sat down to play poker.

We Must have Order

The order of poker hands from strongest to weakest is as follows - royal flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, and if all else fails it comes down to the highest card you are holding. However, if a joker or wild cards are used, 'five of a kind' (four aces plus the joker) is the best possible hand.

Dealing with the Terms

How many cards are dealt in poker will always depend on the type of game, but a 'bet' always means you are intending to risk money on the strength of your hand being the best in the room. When you 'raise' you are betting more than the other players and when you 'check' you are choosing not to bet when your time comes. Poker players never want to say the word 'fold' but it happens to us all, and means we are throwing in the towel because our hand just hasn't got enough juice to win the day.

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