Since the ESPN broadcasts of poker, the sport has exploded in popularity. Slowly at first then it propelled itself into the mainstream with Chris Moneymaker who won the WSOP Main Event for $2.5 million. He won his entry to the WSOP with an $86 satellite tournament seat. In poker a satellite event is a outer poker tournament where a single winner or group of winners are given acces to another tournament. This is a common feature of many online poker sites. Poker exploded after this common man won so much with so little. If you check out the WSOP prize money, it increased significantly after Moneymaker’s win. More recently, the main event top prize has hovered in the $8 million dollar range!
How to play poker
Poker is an easy game to learn. There are usually nine players at a table. Every player is dealt two cards only they can see. These are called “hole cards”. On televised shows, the camera is able to show these cards to the viewing public. Each player hopes their hole cards will create the best combination based on a combination of the hole cards and flop. Players can bet this round as well. One difference in draw poker and holdem is players can’t exchange cards in hopes for a better hand but must make the best combination out of their cards. This is called the pre-flop. The next round the flop is shown.
The flop is, like pancakes, when the first three community cards are turned over. They are dealt face up. Each player can then evaluate their hands against the flop. A betting round will ensue. When a good match is made between the hole cards and flop, a player may raise their bet. Another player may re-raise that bet and so on till each player at the table has made their action to either raise, re-raise or sit out by folding.
At the turn, the dealer shows another face up community card. This gives players who are still in the fourth card to complement their hand. Another round of betting occurs with players either raising, re-raising or folding based on the results.
The river is where the last community card is dealt. This is the fifth card that is shown. From here players will stand by checking, raise, re-raise or fold. After this betting action, players cards are turned over and the player with the best hand wins.
Even though holdem poker is a high card wins game, there are many combinations that will win. Check out the winning hands from high to low. Players hope for a winning hand from one the potential combinations. The highest combination wins they are:
Four of a Kind
Three of a kind
Variations of Holdem Poker
There are several variations of holdem poker. They are distinguished by their betting limits. They are:
Limit Texas Holdem:Features a pre-determined betting limit on each round
No Limit Holdem:Players can bet any amount up to all-in
Pot Limit Holdem:Players can bet up to the size of the pot
Mixed Holdem:Play goes between limit holdem and no limit holdem.
In addition to the variations of holdem poker, there are specialties within the no limit holdem variety. These include:
Small, Medium, or High Stakes:The amount players need to buy-in.
Turbo:A tournament with shorter levels online is usually five minutes vs. fifteen.
Four, Six or Eight Max:These are the maximum seated players at a table.
A new variety of play is Big ante. This form has one player betting the ante for all players and in effect shortens the overall play time. Lower chip stacked players get eliminated faster.
Satellites:These are lower cost tournaments that lead to a buy-in for a larger buy-in event. An example is Chris Moneymakers won a satellite seat to the WSOP, where he won the main event. The usual buy-in for the event is $10,000. Many online sites have satellite tournaments for their higher stakes tournaments.
As you can see from the photos, the big letter D is the button or dealer. In holdem poker, everyone gets to be the dealer. And it moves counter clockwise around the table. Everyone must bet at some point. No one can hold their cards indefinitely.
The blinds are the two forced bets players play at the table. In the pics above to the left of the dealer there are two bet amounts. The larger is the big blind and the smaller is the small blind. These two kick off the betting round and are betting blindly without ability to assess their hand.
The blinds usually go up with each level of play. In cash games, the blinds stay the same amount.
Cash Games vs Tournaments
Cash games have a minimum and maximum buy-in. They are great for those who can’t play at a table for an extended period of time like a tournament. Players are free to come and go as they please. There is a graph of a poker player from New York, who amassed a 7 million dollar payout at the end of 5 years playing cash games.
Tournaments are longer events. They can last for an extended period of time. It ends when there’s only one player standing. After the bubble, each player gets an amount of the prize pool in graduated amount going up to the most for the top winner. The WSOP Main event is an example with several tournaments leading up to the main event. Most of the televised events are poker tournaments. Focusing on the large, first place finish makes the game more entertaining for viewers. Since these amounts can be life changing viewers can imagine paying off mortgages, etc.
Play Free Poker
Americas Cardroom has freerolls. These are free poker tournaments where players can win cash for free by winning. Here is where you can play poker without any risk at all. Simply download the poker software, sign up and start playing. You can also play on your mobile device but you need to make a deposit first.
There are several types of freeroll tournaments. One of the freerolls is on demand. So, when a fixed amount of players are entered, the freeroll tournament begins. Another type of freeroll is sponsored via online poker sites. For example, Cardschat and Jackpot Freeroll members, can join freeroll tournaments at Americas Cardroom by going to their sites and gettting membership password. Simply sign up for free to these sites and join a freeroll. Freeroll tournaments are a great way to play and learn the art of poker.
I won’t lead you astray, it often takes several years of playing to master the game. Check out the bios of several top players, most of the time, they went bust before greatness. If you check out all the advice out there, you have to remember, they are not playing for you in any game and the winning combinations can be anything. You have to play to find out. So, if you expect to be the next poker star, you’re going to have to apply your own experience to the game. But if you just want to play for recreation and have fun plotting the big wins, the freerolls are a great way to start.