by Staff Writer
If you're looking for a card game that is easy to learn but a fun challenge to master, try poker. Five-card draw is the most common form. It's played with a standard deck of 52 playing cards and two to six players. There are many variations on the game, but these are the basics.
Royal flush: This is the most valuable hand in poker and is the hardest to get. A royal flush is composed of 10, jack, queen, king, and ace when all of the playing cards are of the same suit.
Straight flush: A straight flush contains five cards of the same suit in numerical order. If two players have a straight flush, whichever hand adds up to the highest value wins.
Four-of-a-kind: This hand contains four cards of the same numerical rank and one random card. If there is more than one player with four-of-a-kind, the hand with the highest value wins.
Full house: A full house contains three cards that have the same numerical rank and two other cards that have another numerical value. Ties are broken with the three-of-a-kind first and then with the pair.
Flush: Five cards of the same suit, whatever their numerical value, comprise the flush. In a tie, the hand with the highest numerical value wins.
Straight: A straight contains five cards in numerical order, no matter the suit of each card. In a tie, the hand with the highest value wins.
Three-of-a-kind: This hand contains three cards of the same numerical value and two random cards that are not a pair.
Two pairs: Two sets of pairs and another random card form this hand.
One pair: A hand that contains one pair of cards and three random cards is called the one pair. In a tie, the hand with the highest numerical value wins.
High card: If none of the players' hands has any value, the player holding the highest card wins. In a tie, you use the next highest card.
To start the game: Before the game begins and cards are dealt, the players must agree on an "ante" (the minimum bet). Each player is then dealt five cards face down, one card per person in clockwise order. Players can then look at their cards and ask the dealer for up to five new cards, discarding the same number of cards, so they start the hand with five cards. Then they will start taking turns in clockwise order, starting with the person to the left of the dealer. Before any bets are made, players can "check" (pass, or not place a bet) or "open" (place the first bet). Players should verbally declare their action on each turn, which binds them to that action. If everyone checks on the first round, cards are returned the dealer, all bets stay in the pot for the next hand, and a new minimum bid must be added to the pot.
Placing bets: When a player is ready to open, he should state "bet" and place the number of poker chips he is betting into the center of the table. Once bets have started, players must choose to "fold" (drop out of the hand and forfeit any bets placed), "call" (place a bet that equals the previous bet), or "raise" (place a bet that is higher than the previous bet).
Keeping track of the action: Each player is expected to keep track of the current bet amount, but it is customary for the dealer to track it, too. Players must not act out of turn. You'll want to agree to a maximum number of raises allowed per hand; four is standard, and players will need to keep track of how many raises have been made to know when to stop.
Ending: If all the players except one have folded, the one remaining player wins by default. If the maximum number of raises has been met, the remaining players must then show their cards and the winner of that hand is chosen using the ranking system above.