Poker Basics (4)


Players must first decide which form of poker to play.

The main forms of this game are Draw Poker and Stud Poker. In Draw Poker, all cards are dealt face down to players. In Stud Poker, some of the cards are dealt face-up as the betting progresses, so that all other players can see a part of each player’s hand.

Unless the host, or club rule, has already established the game, players must first decide which form of poker they will play. Two factors should influence this decision: the number of players, and whether the group has only experienced players or whether some of these are inexperienced. The following selections are recommended:

– 2, 3 or 4 players: Stud Poker in any of its forms. Usually, with so few players, only very experienced players play Draw Poker and they often use a stripped deck (which is a deck with some cards removed, such as all deuces (twos) and treys (threes)).

– 5-8 players: Any form of poker, either Draw or Stud.

– 9 or 10 players: Five-card stud poker.

– More than 10 players: One of the games in which fewer than five cards are dealt, such as Three-Card Monte or Spit-in-the-Ocean. All poker variations are described later in this article. Another alternative, for as many players, is to simply form two tables and arrange two separate games.


When the poker session is Dealer’s Choice, each Dealer has the privilege of naming the form of poker to be played, designating the bet, the Wild cards (if any), and the maximum limit of chips that can be bet during each round. However, the dealer cannot require one player to bet more than another. If a game, such as Jackpots, is selected and no one opens the betting, the Dealer deals the cards again and all players bet again.


While most poker purists choose to play without Wild cards, in many games, especially Dealer’s Choice, several cards can be designated as Wild. A Wild card is specified by the cardholder to be a card of any value or suit, and this will be the card needed to combine with the other four cards in a player’s hand to form a Straight or Flush. Wild cards in a poker game add variety, and of course, increase the chances of getting a rare combination, such as a Full House or a Straight Flush.

The usual choices for Wild cards are as follows:


Note that most card packs include two Jokers for use in games such as Canasta. Poker players increasingly add one or both Jokers as Wild cards.


It is the Joker, but its Wild value is limited: It counts as an Ace; as a card of any suit to make a Flush; as a card of any value and suit to make a Straight or Straight Flush.


Deuces Wild is a very popular form of Draw Poker. Every deuce is a Wild card. Sometimes the Joker is included as a fifth Wild card. Note that the number of Wild Cards in a hand doesn’t diminish it in any way; so with Deuces Wild, five of a kind consisting of 10, 10, 2, 2, 2 (five 10s) beats 8, 8, 8, 8, 2 (five 8s).


The King of Diamonds and the Jacks of Spades or Hearts show only one eye, while the other face cards all have two eyes. One-Eyed Jacks are sometimes designated as Wild cards, but the King of Diamonds is rarely selected to be of this type.


In Stud Poker, the lowest “Hole” card of each player (that is, the lowest card that is dealt, is face down, and cannot be seen by the other players) is a Wild. In Draw Poker, a Wild card would be the lowest card in a player’s hand. When such a card is designated, it means that every card of that rank in that player’s hand is a Joker, but the fact that a particular card is a Joker in one player’s hand does not make that same rank a Joker in the hands of other players.


In every game, a written code of Poker rules shall be used as the final arbiter for the resolution of all issues. No poker rule is universally followed – there are many local customs and preferences – but the poker rules in this article cover the latest customs of more specialized games and their adoption is recommended. It is also a tradition in poker that any club or group of players may create special rules, called “House Rules,” to suit their personal preferences. Of course, any House Rules must be written down.


Before the game starts, players should set a time limit for the end of the game and stick to it. Violating this principle could eventually turn enjoyable sessions into unpleasant experiences. Often, when the time to end the game approaches, the host or one of the players will say “three more moves” or “by Zane’s agreement” so that the players know how many moves remain and can evaluate their strategies accordingly.

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