Poker Basics (2)

BETTING.

Betting is the key to poker, as the game is essentially about money management.

During the course of every poker game, there will be one or more betting intervals where players will have the opportunity to gamble according to the cards in their hand. Minimizing losses with weak hands and maximizing gains with good cards is an underlying skill of the game.

Even before the cards are dealt the rules of the game, which is being played, may require each player to place an initial contribution, called an “ante”, of one or more chips in the pot on the table to start the game.

Each betting interval, or round, begins when a player, in turn, places a bet of one or more chips. Each player to the left, in turn, must “call” that bet by placing the same number of chips in the pot; or “raise”, meaning that the player places more than enough chips to call; or “fold”, meaning that the player does not place chips in the pot, discards his hand, and stays out of the bet until the next game.

When a player folds, he loses all of the chips he put into the pot, unless he is willing to put at least the same number of chips on the table that other players have bet.

A betting range ends when the bets have been equalized – that is, when each player has placed exactly the same number of chips as his predecessors, or folds. There are usually two or more betting breaks for each poker game. After the final break, there will be a “showdown,” meaning that each player remaining in the game shows his hand face-up on the table. The best hand wins the pot.

If a player makes a bet or a raise that no other player follows, he wins the pot without having to show his hand. Thus, in poker, there is an element of bluffing, and sometimes the best combination of cards does not always win the pot! Bluffing is one of the main reasons why poker is not always so popular.

If a player wishes to stay in the game without betting, he “checks”. This means that the player is making a “bet of nothing”. A player can ask to check as long as no one before him in that betting range has placed a bet. If another player has bet, he may not ask to check, but must at least call the bet or fold. A player who makes the request to check may add a bet that has been raised by another player. This is called “sandbagging”, which is allowed unless it has been previously decided that this practice is prohibited. If all players check during a round of play, the betting range ends, and all players still in the pot remain in the game.

In each betting round, one player is designated as the first bettor, according to the game rules. Everyone’s turn to bet always moves to the left, from player to player, and no one may check, bet, or even fold, except when it is their turn to play.

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