Poker is a group of card games based on betting and predefined hand rankings. Prior to a hand, there is generally a forced bet. The forced bet may be in the form of an ante, made by all the players at the table. Or a forced bet may be required of just two players, based on their position to the dealer. Betting rounds follow any action that involves cards being dealt to players, dealt to a community board, or drawn by players. If there is more than one player still in the hand after the final betting round, the winner is determined by a showdown, where the winning hand has the best hand rank.

Hand rankings can vary depending on the variant of the game. A number of games, including Texas Hold'em, are based on a standard high hand ranking. There are a number of games where the lowest hand is the best hand rank, including games like Razz and Deuce-to Seven. And there are "split pot" games where both the best high and low hands are eligible to win the pot, like Omaha Hi/Lo.

As play progresses in a game of Poker, players must at least meet, or call, the highest bet amount in a betting round to remain in a hand. Some of the strategy of Poker involves the mathematical probabilities that a player has the best hand or has the ability to improve to the best hand. Since each player is playing with imperfect information, strategies that employ psychology are also paramount. Players can often be successful by betting a lesser hand, representing a better hand than they actually have, also known as bluffing. And since it is a wagering game, each strategy must be weighed against its probability of being profitable over the long term, or evaluated for its expected value.


The many variants of poker primarily fall into major game categories, based on the structure of the card delivery.

Draw: In Draw Poker games, a complete hand is dealt to each player face down. Players then attempt to improve their hands by substituting a subset of cards from their hand for newly dealt, or drawn, cards. The most common high hand draw variant is Five Card Draw, while Lowball is a common low hand Draw variant. California Hi/Lo split is a split pot variant of Draw Poker.

Stud: In Stud Poker games, a predetermined structure of face up and face down cards are dealt to each player. The most common variant of Stud Poker is Seven Card Stud, where players make their best five card high hand from the seven cards eventually dealt. Razz is a common low hand stud variant, while Stud Hi/Lo is a split pot Stud variant.

Community: In community Poker games, an incomplete hand is dealt to each player face down. A series of community cards is then dealt face up. Players assemble their best hand five card hand, using a combination of the cards in their hand and the community cards on the board. Texas Hold'em and Omaha are common community high hand variants. Omaha Hi/Lo is a split pot community variant.


The exact derivation of Poker is still a contested subject. There are a number of similar card games that predate Poker, like the Persian game As Nas[1], the French game poque, and other variants like Pochen and Bragg. Poker in the United States appears to have its origins in New Orleans in 1800s. The game was first played with a 20 card deck and later expanded to 52. The game was popular on Mississippi river boats and spread with the mobility of the U.S. population[2]. It flourished during the North American gold rushes. And Draw and Stud Poker became a common pastime of soldiers during the American Civil War.

Although gambling was more or less legal in Nevada during the 1900s, Las Vegas officially legalized gambling, and Poker, in 1931[3]. In 1970, the game gained mainstream notoriety in the hands of casino operator and promoter, Benny Binion, who staged the first World Series of Poker[4]. After winning the 1972 WSOP, "Amarillo Slim" Preston, made an appearance on The Tonight Show[4], hosted by Johnny Carson. The following year, CBS Sports picked up the event[4] and subsequently covered many of the WSOP Main Events throughout the early 1980s. Since then ESPN has broadcast the event, with the exception of 2000 and 2001, when the Discovery Channel had the rights.

In the late 1990s, a number of online Poker rooms started up, including Planet Poker, Paradise Poker, and Party Poker. Poker featured prominently in 1998 the movie Rounders, staring Matt Damon and Ed Norton, and featured a scene between Erik Seidel and Johnny Chan at the final table of the 1988 WSOP.

By 2003, Poker was rising in popularity, aided by the growth of online Poker. The number of participants in the WSOP Main Event had grown to 839, up more than 30% over the starting field in 2002, many of whom gained their entry fee through online Poker qualifiers. When a non-professional online qualifier, Chris Moneymaker, won the event in 2003, he fueled the aspirations of amateur players around the world[4]. That spring, the first season of the World Poker Tour aired on the Travel Channel[5], further spurred the popularity of the game.

Participation in the WSOP Main Event peaked in 2006, with 8773 entrants and a total prize pool of in excess of $82 million. It is estimated that two-thirds of the field qualified for their entry through online Poker sites. On October 13, 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)[6] was signed into law, making it more difficult for online Poker sites to operate in the United States. In 2007, WSOP Main Event participation dropped 27% to 6,358 entrants.

Although the Poker trend was bound to peak, its crest was hastened by the hastily passed UIGEA. The period from 2003 to 2006 will likely stand as Poker's golden years and the game may never again see the meteoric growth it enjoyed during that time. But in the process, it is estimated that over a 100 million people played Poker worldwide during the golden years [7]. And a new generation of players will insure that the game of Poker thrives for years to come.

Money Management in Poker

If you are a regular poker player, it is important that you look after your poker finances well. If you can manage to keep control of the money that you dedicate to poker, it should be easier to calculate your wins from your losses, and find out if you are winning money in the long run. Furthermore, managing your money well also involves exercising good ‘bankroll management’ so that you can help prevent yourself from losing your entire bankroll.

Bankroll management simply involves playing at certain limits depending on how much money you have available, to help prevent yourself from going bust at the tables. If you play at too high a limit with not enough money, then it is very likely that you will lose all your poker funds in a very short period of time. On the flip side, if you play at too low a level with a big bankroll, then you are not giving yourself the best opportunity to make money from the game. This is where the rules of bankroll management come into play.

If you are a cash game player, it is advised that you only ever put 5% of your total bankroll on the table at most at any one time. The online poker rooms will usually have games where the maximum buy in for each limit in no limit and pot limit games is one hundred times the size of the big blind. Therefore if you wish to play the $1/$2 no limit game and you intend to sit down with the maximum buy in of $200, you should have at least $4000 in your total bankroll.

Similarly, if you are a tournament player and like to play in the popular Sit ‘n’ Go games on offer, you should have 40 buy-ins for the level of tournament you wish to play at. Therefore if you have a bankroll of $800, you can comfortably play in the $20 Sit ‘n’ Go tournaments without the fear of going broke.

These rules may seem a little harsh and appear to confine you to quite low limits, but it is in your best interest as a poker player to adhere to them. It is not uncommon to go through long stretches of bad runs of cards, which you can do nothing about due to the fact that it is impossible to control what cards will come out of the deck on any given hand. During these bad runs it is likely that you will lose a substantial amount of money no matter how well you are playing, which is why it is important to have a big enough bankroll to absorb these losses.

If you exercise good bankroll management, you are giving yourself the best opportunity to make money from the game. If you continue to play well, there is a good chance that you will be making enough money to move up to the next limit. By continuing this process, you will rise up through the limits and be able to make a sizeable income from poker over time. But remember, this process will take time, so be careful not to rush it or you will be setting yourself up for a fall.

Based on Texas Holdem Strategy found at ThePokerBank


Definition of Poker by Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia.
Poker definitions & Reference by Babylon Dictionary.
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World Series of Poker - World Series of Poker's official website.


1. R. F. Foster, Foster's Complete Hoyle (1937)
2. Jonathan H. Green, An Exposure of the Arts and Miseries of Gambling (1943)
3. Assembly Bill 98, also known as the "Wide-Open Gambling Bill," introduced into the Nevada Legislature by Assemblyman Phil M. Tobin of Winnemucca and signed into law by Governor Fred Balzar on March 19, 1931.
4. Nolan Dalla, A Brief History of the World Series of Poker,
5. Travel Channel Press Release, March 30 is 'Opening Night' on the Travel Channel With the Debut of Three New Network Series, March 6, 2003.
6. Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 (SAFE Port Act), Public Law 109-347, October 13, 2006. The UIGEA was a last minute addition to the SAFE Port Act, added on September 29, 2006 at 9:29 pm, prior to passing the House and Senate conference report on September 20, 2006.
7. World Poker Tour estimate, Chicago University Magazine, Who Likes to Play Poker? A Show of Hands, December 2004.