Playing Poker: Betting, Psychology and Game Theory

There are many card games existing but only a few are as popular and well-known as poker. In short, poker is a card game where the ranks and combination of the players cards determine who wins. To play poker it takes skill and and a perfect control over all facial expressions. Also the art of betting plays an important role in the game. Even though poker is a game with many variations the basic rules remain the same. And moreover poker has a very long history.

The development of poker

Poker is an old game and first occured in New Orleans in 1829 where the French started to play poker. From there it spread all over the east of the USA and later also across the west part of America. After poker had spread all over the country it was consistently played with 52 cards just as we play poker today.

Play Poker
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In the beginning poker was only seen as a form of gambling and had a pretty dubious reputation. That changed with the introduction of the World Series of Poker in 1970. From there on poker was seen as an established card game where luck an strategy determine who wins and exept for the legitimate bluffing there are no tricks used. Furthermore the broad audience got to know poker and it started gaining in popularity among adults and young people as kind of a party game. But also the number of professional poker players is increasing, so today poker is seen as a genuine way to make a living. Nowadays poker is not only played in casinos but also at home with friends, at competitions as well as online. Especially the introduction of online poker caused another peak in the popularity of playing poker because now the game is open for everyone and people don’t even have to leave the house anymore to take part in a poker play.

How to play poker and how to bet in poker

There is a large variety of ways to play poker. Differences mostly occur in the number of cards that are dealt, shared and hidden. Some examples are the Stud Poker or Draw Poker. Apart from all those differences in rules and regulations, this is the basic procedure of a poker play: Normally, at the beginning of each poker play there is a bet from one of the players claiming what he thinks his hand is worth in comparison to what the other players have. This betting is also called ‘forced bet’ or ‘blind bet’ and proceeds clockwise. The players either have to match or increase the previous maximum or fold. The player who folds automatically steps out of the game but his money remains in the pot. If one player bets and nobody else wants to match his bet, then usually he gets the pot without having to reveal the cards. The game then continues with several betting rounds. In between new cards are dealt or cards can be swapped among the players. Only if a player believes that he holds the winning bet or if he wants to bluff the other players there is additional money placed into the pot. The game ends with a big showdown. The players have to reveal their cards and the hands are evaluated. Obviously the player with the best cards on hand wins the pot. There might be a limit to betting and bluffing but still those two things are just as important as psychology and the manipulation of the mind of the other players.

Poker Basic
So basically to play poker includes not only betting, but also knowledge about probability, psychology and game theory and therefore it is a far more complex game that many might think.