Poker is a “go to” pastime for many, providing a different and fun way to exercise your psychological muscles and test them against friends and family. On any given night at a Traditions of America clubhouse you’re likely to find a dedicated group of poker players testing their skill and luck at the card table. For many, when hearing “poker”, their minds immediately rush to Texas Hold ‘Em, however, this is just one of the many variations of poker.
Texas Hold ‘Em
For those unfamiliar with Texas Hold ‘Em, or if it’s been a little while since you last played, here is a refresher on how to play the most popular game of poker. In Texas Hold ‘Em, players are dealt two “hole cards.” They then go through three rounds of betting after the initial ante, once after the first three community cards are revealed, referred to as “the flop”, once after the fourth community card is revealed, referred to as “the turn”, and lastly after the fifth community card is flipped, referred to as “the river.” Each player then flips their cards and the player with the best hand wins the pot. The goal is to make the best hand possible with any combination of 5 cards, including at least one of the player’s own cards. The best hand a player can get in Texas Hold ‘Em is called a Royal Flush: 5 cards that range from 10 to ace all with matching suits. The ranking of possible hands can be seen in Figure 1. This game in it of itself has many variations. For example, many people play that the higher numbered and face card hands are most valuable, referred to as “high hand poker.” However, you can also play that the lower card hands are more valuable. This is called “low hand poker.”
Omaha is another great game of poker and is a form of Texas Hold ‘Em that can be played with 2-10 players at a time. There are four rounds of betting and the layout of the community cards stays exactly the same as in Texas Hold ‘Em, however players are dealt four hole cards instead of two. The goal is to make the best 5 card hand possible from two of your four hole cards and three of the five community cards. Unlike Texas Hold ‘Em, where you can make your best hand from one of your hole cards and four community cards, your hand must be made from exactly three of the five community cards plus exactly two of your own cards. This little spin can provide a new and fun way to take a little money from friends and family.
Seven Card Stud
Like any poker game, seven card stud begins with an ante, after which the dealer deals each player two hole cards and one card face up. The player with the lowest card showing face up has to put in a small bet called a “bring in.” Betting then continues to that low-card player’s left and each player can call, raise or fold. After the initial round of betting, another card is dealt out to each player face up. This is known as “Fourth Street” or “the turn.” The second round of betting then occurs, starting with the player with the highest cards showing. From this point on, the player with the highest cards showing will continue to bet first. After betting, another card, referred to as “Fifth Street” or “the river card,” is dealt face up. More betting occurs, then the sixth card is dealt face up and after this another round of betting takes place. The final card is then dealt face-down to each player and a final round of betting occurs. Players then show their hands and the player with the best five-card hand out of the seven cards wins.
Five Card Draw
The rules of 5 card draw are simple, easy to learn and make for a fast-paced game perfect for new or less experienced players. After ante, play begins with each player being dealt five cards, one at a time, all face down. The rest of the deck is put aside. Players then pick up their cards, keeping them concealed. A round of betting then takes place. If more than one player remains after the first round, which they most likely will, the “draw” phase begins, during which each player specifies how many of their cards they want to replace and discards them. Each player is then dealt the same number of cards they discarded so that they each have five cards again. A second “after the draw” betting round occurs beginning with the player to the dealer’s left or beginning with the player who opened the first round. If more than one player remains at the end of this betting round, a showdown takes place where the player with the best hand wins the pot.
Poker – and its many variations – is by far a favorite at all of the Traditions of America communities. Pull up a seat and join a game!