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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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There are hundreds of poker variations and while most can be dismissed as tinkering about to make the game more entertaining or less monotonous, and would be dismissed out of hand by serious players, a number have proved popular over a period of time.  Descriptions of the more established variations follow.


This must be mentioned first because it is the most popular form of Draw Poker, especially in the United States, and frequently text books will describe this version as poker itself, rather than a variation.
            The difference from the game already described is merely that a player has to hold in the deal a hand of a pair of Jacks or better in order to open the betting.  Once a player has opened, the other players can call, bet or raise as they wish.

            A player who opens the betting must be able to show in due course that he held an opening hand.  I.e. a hand of a pair of Jacks or better.  If he folds before the showdown he must retain his hand in order to demonstrate that he had the necessary values.  For this reason, he must also retain his discards at the draw because it is permissible for him to ‘split his openers’, i.e. to discard one or more of the cards that contributed to the combination that allowed him to open.
            For example, if a player is dealt the hand below, his pair of Jacks entitles him to open the betting round.  When it comes to the draw, he might well decide to discard the ♣ J, giving him the chance of a straight flush (with 10), a flush (with any other diamond) or a straight (with any other 10).


Table 10 shows that he has roughly a 3 to 1 against chance of completing one of these hands, which might well take the pot.  It is a better bet than drawing three cards to his Jacks, where the odds against him achieving a better hand than any of the above are about 75 to 1.  However, if he discards the ♣ J and the discard is collected up, he will have no way of proving later, whether he folds or wins the pot with a straight flush, that he held a requisite hand to open.  So he must keep the discarded ♣ J, face down of course.


There are five players, with the dealer placing five chips in the pot as the ante and with a limit of two chips to bet or raise before the draw and five chips after the draw.

First betting interval


  • Player 1 is dealer, so Player 2 is first to speak.  He holds a four-card straight, open at both ends, but hasn’t the necessary hand to open.
  • Player 3 holds a four-card flush, but also cannot open.
  • Player 4 cannot open with a pair of 10s, and neither can player 5 with a pair of 6s.  All of these players check.
  • The dealer, with his two pairs, opens with two chips, to the relief of players 2 and 3, with their chances of a good poker hand. He would have been able to open with two pairs, even if the higher pair had not been Jacks or above, since a hand of two pairs is clearly higher than the pair of Jacks required to open.

1ST BETTING ROUND Only player 1 can open the betting, even though other players hold good hands.


  • Player 2 and 3 call.
  • Player 4 and 5 fold.  They know that player 1 has them beaten.  Player 5 could have called, and drawn two cards to his pair, keeping the Ace as kicker, in the hope of drawing a third 6 or another Ace and winning the pot with three of a kind or two pairs Aces up, but prudently folds.

The draw

  • Player 2 discards ♥ J, and receives ♣ 6, completing a straight.
  • Player 3 discards ♠ 10 and draws 10, completing a flush (there could be fireworks ahead).
  • The dealer discards ♥ 9 and draws ♥ 5.

AFTER THE DRAW Players 2 and 3 have improved their hands in the draw, while player 1 has not.

* Deal passed out 1

           If no-one has two Jacks or better, the deal is ‘passed out ’.  The deal now passes to the next player, with the rules remaining the same.  There is another ante (in this case the new dealer adds another five chips to the pot, making the ante ten) and the cards, after the shuffle and cut, are redial.  If the deal is passed out again, it continues round the table, with the ante increasing each time.  It would be rare, of course, for more than two or three deals to be passed out consecutively.  A pair of Jacks or better should appear approximately once in five hands, so with five players the odds of improving against getting a run of three passed out hands are about 7 to 1 against and, with more than five they are over 60 to 1 against.

* Deal passed out 2

           Rather than redialing the cards if nobody is able to open, an alternative is for all players to keep their hands and play then as Lowball.

Second betting interval


  • It is dealer ’s turn to speak first, as the first to bet.  He checks (if one or both of his opponents have filled to a straight or a flush, they will doubtless bet, and eventually beat him, so there’s no point in contributing any more to their winnings).
  • Player 2 is not interested in everybody checking as he holds a good hand and he bets the maximum of five chips.
  • Player 3 realizes that player 2 could have filled to a straight, a flush or a full house, the last of which would beat him, but reckons that if he cannot raise with a King straight flush he never will, and calls five and raises five.


  • Player 1 now folds, his two pairs almost certainly beaten, but keeps his hand because he must show his pair of Kings gave him the right to open.
  • Player 2 thinks his small run is probably beaten, but being a player who thinks it worth five chips to be absolutely sure (he hates the notion of being bluffed), he calls.


           Player 3 wins.  He takes the pot of 31 chips, a profit of 18 chips.

* False openers

If, at the showdown, the opener cannot show that he possessed the required opening cards, the penalties are as follows.

  • If the opener is involved in the showdown, he cannot win the pot and his hand is dead.  If there is only one other player in the showdown, he takes the pot.  If there is more than one, then the player with the best hand wins.
  • If the opener bet and was not called, his bet is forfeited and remains in the pot for the next deal.
  • If the opener bet and other players called and then folded, so that only the opener remained, all the money in the pot is returned to the players who made bets, the opener ’s bets remaining forfeit in the pot.
  • If during the first betting interval, the opener announces that he lacked the cards to open before all bets are equalized; all other online poker players withdraw their chips from the pot.  Players in turn from the opener ’s left may open if they have the right cards.
  • If one of the other players bets, the false opener may remain in by calling or raising but must put new chips into the pot those he contributed earlier are forfeited.
  • If no player after the false opener wishes to open, then the deal moves to the next player in turn, with the false opener ’s chips remaining in the pot for the following deal.


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