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How to Play Poker

Buying chips
The first thing any poker player must do is buy chips. To enter a poker game you have to throw down for the buy-in. Every game will post the buy-in amount for entry. Once the dealer receives your cash you get your chips and can begin play. Between each hand a player may buy more chips.

Blinds and antes
Games begin with a blind or ante before cards are dealt. The idea is to make sure the game begins with a little money in the pot. Once there is a bit of money, there is incentive for players to play. An ante is a minor part of a bet placed in the pot before cards are given. Blinds are a forced bet by at least on player prior to receiving cards.

Once every player receives their cards the betting can start. Beginning with the first player to act, the betting order continues clockwise. If no bet was placed, you have the option of checking which means betting nothing. Each player has three options after the first bet is made. A player can either Call, Fold, or Raise. Calling means equaling the amount of the previous bet. Folding means leaving the hand which also means you forfeit the money you already placed in the pot for that round. If you raise it means you put into the pot more money than the player before you did forcing the rest of the players to either match that amount or fold. The amount of betting rounds is dependent on the kind of poker you choose to play.

  • Call - Place an identical bet to the one placed by a previous players.
  • Fold - Forfeit the hand and lose whatever bets placed in the hand.
  • Raise - Increase the bet placed by previous players.

There are several different kinds of rules for raising all dependent on whether the game is a fixed limit game, a spread limit game, a pot limit game or a no limit game.
1. Fixed limit games: In such games you are limited to raise only the amount set before the game began.
2. Spread limit games: In these games a player is only allowed to bet within the limits decided before the beginning of the game. The limits are shown as highest and lowest meaning a raise can be made at any amount between the two given numbers. For example, if the lowest is $4 and the highest is $12, the raise amount may be anywhere between $4 and $12.
3. Pot limit games: In such games the raise amount is determined by the size of the pot. This means that to raise a player would have to call the bet made by the previous player and then raise the amount of money in the pot. For example, if there was $10 in the pot and the previous bet was a raise of 10$, you would have to call the previous raise by adding $10 making the pot a total of $30. In order to raise, you would have to add another $30 to make the pot a total of $60.
4. No limit games: In these games the names says it all. There is no limit to raising. You can add any amount of money to the pot whenever it's your turn to bet.

Often a player will go all-in when he/she does not have an adequate amount of chips to match a raise or bet. This means that all your money goes into the pot but it only covers the equivalent to the amount you placed in the pot. Any bets or raises placed following this will be played in a side pot off limits to you.

Following the completion of all betting rounds, the showdown begins. If all players folded except for one then that lone player takes home the pot. If more than one player remains, every player places their cards on the table face up and waits for the dealer to check the cards and call a winner.