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Poker 101 by Wayne Bangsil

Before I continue writing poker blogs, I feel that it is only appropriate to get the average reader acquainted to what Poker is all about. The Google dictionary defines poker as a type of card game in which players bet on the value of the card combination (”hand”) in their possession, by placing a bet into a central pot.

The Filipino term for poker is “Pusoy” which I grew up playing, also called the Chinese Poker where in a total 2 to 4 players bet on the 3 card combination of good, better, best. Some Pinoys are also fond of playing the Pusoy Dos which is another local variant of poker.

There must be dozens if not hundreds of different kinds of poker; of course, the all time favorite shall always be “strip poker”. But one thing in common among all of them is that they follow the same card rankings or hierarchy.

Poker 5 Card Combination Rankings (From Highest to Lowest)

Royal Flush A♠ K♠ Q♠ J♠ 10♠
Straight Flush 10♠ 9♠ 8♠ 7♠ 6♠
Quads 3♠ 3♣ 3♦ 3♥ 9♠
Flush 7♠ 4♠ 3♠ J♠ 6♠
Straight 6♣ 5♠ 4♦ 3♠ 2♣
Trio or Trips 7♠ 7♣ 7♦ 9♠ 8♥
2 pair 3♠ 3♦ 5♠ 5♣ K♠
1 pair 8♠ 8♥ 10♠ 5♣ A♣
High Card 8♠ 7♥ 10♠ 5♣ A♣

The version that became popular in the US during the 90’s and is starting to get popular in the Philippines is the Texas Hold’em fuelled by the internet online gaming and proliferation of poker card rooms. Doyle Brunson, one of the legendary poker champions defined Texas Hold’em as the Cadillac of Poker mainly because a lot of professional poker players rely on this game as their primary mode of income.

Let me focus on discussing this particular poker variant Texas Hold’em since it is the easiest to learn and the most popular among all the varieties. I also feel that its popularity shall continue throughout the coming years. As a testament to this, a lot of the recent hit movies that came out have Texas Hold’em integrated in their storylines like “Lucky You” and James Bond’s ” Casino Royale”, in my opinion, the best poker movie is still “Rounders” which came out during the 90’s.

How is this game played? To simply illustrate, each player shall be dealt 2 hole cards up to a maximum of 10 players. Then the first round of betting occurs before the flop, each player shall have the option to bet, fold or raise. The dealer places 3 cards on the table which is called the Flop. The 2nd round of betting gets implemented; the ultimate goal is to combine the player’s 2 hole cards with the cards on the community board to form a set of cards (any of the card hierarchy as illustrated above, the highest set cards shall win).

The 4th card is placed on the table and this is called the Turn, the 3rd round of betting among the players still in hand occurs once again.

Now, the 5th and last card is then dealt on the table which is also called the River, the 4th or last round of betting finally takes place. After the betting, whoever is still in the hand will be asked to show their cards to finally reveal who has the best hand and is then declared winner. The dealer then pushes the pot to the winner/s.

Perhaps after reading my brief illustration, you’re either one of those guys who’s still wringing their heads in confusion and vaguely have any idea of what I just blogged about or you now have a clearer picture of a new and wonderful mind sport called Texas Hold’em Poker. As one browses thru the poker clubs, it is easy to find lawyers, doctors, businessmen and politicians playing this game as it easily attracts the intelligent minds. Even US President Barack Obama I heard likes to play this game with his colleagues during his free time when he was still a Senator and was arduously good at it. You see when I first saw this on TV a few years back, first thing that went on my mind was why the heck are these guys gambling on national television. That’s about the same time when a friend of mine introduced me to my first Texas Hold’em poker game inside his uncle’s garage and quite naturally I sucked coz I was the first to lose out my chips. I used to play blackjack/roulette whenever we go to Las Vegas and I always go home a loser. I’m glad I learned Texas Hold’em Poker coz it truly is a mind sport game where skills plays a big factor and a little bit of luck of course. And after a couple of years of practice, the last time I played in Las Vegas, I finally went home…… break even, Whooah!

At Wild Aces Poker Sports Club, we play 2 variants of poker, which are the Texas Hold’em (2 hole cards) and Omaha Hi (4 hole cards). Tournaments are everyday at 3pm. Hope to see you there.

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