Poker, an Overview

Poker The card game poker is possibly the single most important variable in the incredible growth of both online and land-based gambling and even though the burgeoning popularity of the game is a recent phenomenon, poker and poker terms have been freely used, and sometimes abused for many decades now.

One only need to listen closely to casual conversations over coffee, where terms like ‘call his bluff’, ‘fold‘ and ‘raise the ante’ are used to describe everyday matters by ordinary people. We may ‘fold’ in the job or call someone’s ‘bluff’ if we think they’re fibbing, or raise the ‘ante’ by introducing more experienced players in a school or college game, but all these terms have only one thing in common, and that is their origin in the game of poker.

Poker has infiltrated music and song writing too and some of the better known offerings to the gods of poker include inveterate gambler and songster Frank Sinatra’s ‘Luck be a Lady’, ‘Three Card Trick’ by The Clash, ‘The Ace of Spades’ by Motorhead, ‘Draw of the Cards’ by Kim Carnes and Kenny Rogers’ timeless words "You’ve gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run´┐Ż" in ‘The Gambler’.

Hollywood has also had an ongoing love affair with poker and gambling and there are dozens of movies which feature and romanticise the game. One only has to think of the 1973 classic, ‘The Sting’ or ‘The Cincinnati Kid’ which featured the great Steve McQueen and Ann Margaret, or any one of the hundreds of westerns which feature wild poker games in even wilder surroundings.

Poker is not only hugely popular but it has a long and interesting history and there are many famous people who have made poker their game of choice. American presidents Harry Truman and Richard Nixon were well known poker aficionados and so too are movie stars Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Chevy Chase.

What makes poker so very popular the world over is that it has so many variants which can basically be divided into four main groups:

  • Draw Poker – this is where a complete hand, which is hidden, is dealt to the players and they have to try and improve on it by replacing cards. The most common variant of Draw Poker is the evergreen Five-card Draw
  • Stud Poker – this is where players are dealt a blend of face down and face up cards over several betting rounds. Seven or Five-card Stud are the best examples of Stud Poker, but so too is Caribbean Stud Poker. The latter also falls under the Casino poker group as it is played against the house.
  • Community Card Poker – here each player’s hand, which is hidden, is combined with shared face up cards, the community cards. The trendy Texas Holdem and Omaha Holdem are perfect examples of Community card poker.
  • Casino Poker – is when the game is played against the house and not other players. ‘Let it Ride’ and ‘3 Card Poker’ are common examples of Casino poker