.. the key to success in poker is in your hands.

The game of poker has many variations. In its basic form (5 card draw), players are given five cards and their object is to make the best poker hand from these cards. They are looking for pairs, consecutive runs or for five cards of the same suit. Players then have the chance to discard some or all of their cards to try to improve their hand with replacements in turn coming from the deck.

Once players have their final five cards, betting commences with the player to the left of the dealer who can either check, which means he wants to stay in the game and see what happens or fold which is handing his cards back to the dealer or bet. If all players check and or fold then a new game starts. If one player bets then those who checked, can either call, which is to match the bet in order to stay in the game, raise the bet, or fold. This process is repeated until all players have called to see the last bettor’s hand, who has to show his cards on the table. The winner is the player with the best hand.

Sometimes the players may decide that each player should put a small amount of money into the pot before playing the hand known as the ante its purpose is to build the pot up to a reasonable size.

Over the years, variations of draw poker have evolved. The most popular variation is Texas holdem that is played with seven cards instead of five. Each player is dealt two cards face down with another five dealt face up in the centre of the table. These five cards are ‘community’ cards. After the betting has finished the players use the centre cards together with one or both of the cards in their hand to form the best five card poker hand possible. The highest hand wins.

Another variation is Omaha holdem which is the same as Texas holdem except that players are dealt with four cards face down for their hand; and they must use two cards from their hand and three of the community cards to form their best five card poker hand. Seven card stud is another variation worth mentioning. Players are dealt with two cards face down and five face up. At the completion of betting the face down cards are displayed and the best five card poker hand from the seven in front of the player wins.

Draw poker was a very popular parlour game played at home in the 19th and early 20thcenturies. When more and more casinos came to life in the mid to late 1900’s, gamblers started to look for more excitement and so modifications were made to the original game to produce the action they wanted. And today the most popular form of poker is Texas holdem played universally on the internet.

It’s not hard to see why these three games are the most popular games in casinos and in online gaming rooms. Each game has it’s own quirks and foibles which add interest and intrigue to the ordinary game of poker. And the current interest in poker tournaments both online and live games is testament to this.