by Staff Writer
Poker has become a very popular parlor game in the recent years, showing up regularly on numerous television channels and in living rooms around the world. There are different types of poker, but in this guide, we'll focus on how to play Texas hold 'em.
Before each hand is dealt, you pay ante to be given two cards. You are then given two cards face down. Look at them and see if you have a good hand, such as a pair, consecutive numbers or two playing cards of the same suit.
Whether you have a good hand or not, you can check, which means you won't bet any more at this point. However, if someone else bets, you have to bet the same amount of poker chips or increase the bet. If you have a hand you're not happy with, you can fold, which puts you out of the game for that hand.
If you have decided to play your hand, three cards will be revealed on the table. If you have two of the same number (a pair), three of the same number or four of the same number, you have a good hand. Another combination to look for is a straight (five consecutive numbers, such as 2,3,4,5 and 6), a flush (five cards of same suit), a full house (three-of-a-kind and a pair) or a straight flush (five cards of the same suit AND consecutive numbers). If you have a good hand -- you will get to see two more cards on the poker table -- you can either check or raise the pot. If you are not pleased with your hand, you can fold.
One more card will be revealed on the table. At this point and can again decide if you want to check, raise or fold.
The last card, also known as the river card, will be revealed on the table. You can decide to check, raise or fold once again.
Now, if you haven't folded, compare your hand with the other players to see who has the best hand. If you have the best hand, you win the pot. Remember, if two or more people have same combinations, the one with the higher number in the combination wins, hence the reason to play your hand if you start with a "good" hand.
Analyze the card rankings. A straight flush is the best hand and four-of-a-kind is next, which is followed by the full house, flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, two pairs, one pair and, finally, the high card if nobody has any combination. If two or more people have the same high card, you look at the next card to decide who wins.