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Introducing Poker
Ranking Hands
The sequence of play
Betting Interval
Betting Small and Big Blinds
Table stakes
Using wild cards
Probability of holding
First betting interval
Seven-Card Stud
Other forms of poker
Texas Hold'em Basic Hand
Five - Six card Omaha
Poker Sense
Slow Playing
Other Gambling Card Game
Seven-card Brag
Gin Rummy

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Poker, in all its forms, such as Draw and Stud Poker and their variations as well as Texas Hold’Em and Omaha is nowadays one of the most popular card games both in casinos and at home.


Poker was invented in America.  It did not spring into existence fully formed, but took its main elements from a number of earlier games, the most notable of which was Bouillotte, a nineteenth-century French game which had itself evolved from an earlier game called Brelan.  In Bouillotte, four players were each dealt a three-card hand from a 20-card pack (A,K,Q,9,8 in four suits), and the thirteenth card was turned face up as a common card that all the players could use to improve their hands.  The players would bet on their hands in a similar way to today’s poker players, the hands being ranked simply as four of a kind, three of a kind or two of a kind.  The highest hand won the pot, and four or three of a kind with or without the up-card won bonus chips from the others players.

* Dead Man’s Hand
            One of Poker’s best-known legends is that of Wild Bill Hickock, who made the mistake of playing poker in a gambling saloon in Deadwood in 1876.  For once he didn’t take a seat with his back to the wall.  A gambler called Jackie ‘Crooked Nose’ McCall, who had been hired by other crooked gamblers to kill Hickock because they feared he might be made marshal of Deadwood and clean up the game, walked in and shot Wild Bill in the back of the head with a Colt 45.  Bill died clutching his hand, which was found to be two Aces and two 8s (some say all black), with the odd card either the Queen or Jack of diamonds.  From that day, pairs of Aces and 8s have been known as ‘Dead Man’s Hand’.

* Local Rules
            There are various versions of the story of the stranger in town who joined in a game in the local shady dive.  Producing a full house at a showdown he was surprised when a local character displayed an odd collection of cards, 10 high, and grabbed the pot.  ‘According to house rules, a lollapalooza beats everything,’ he said.  A few hands later the stranger laid down the self-same hand, only to lose the pot to a pair of Queens.  Asking why, he was told of another house rule, ‘Only one lollapalooza a night.’

Another game often mentioned as an ancestor of poker is a Persian game called As-Nas, which was played with special packs of 20 or 25 cards according to whether four of five people were playing.  Each player received five cards and, again, they bet as in poker.  The winning hand was the one with most cards of the same rank.
            The French game Poque was played in a similar way to Bouillotte and As-Nas and is probably the origin of the name, poker especially as the first references to poker place the game as being played around New Orleans, in what until 1803, when Napolean Bonaparte sold it to the USA for $15 million, was French territory.