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The Origins of Poker

While card games may date all the way back to ninth-century China, it wasn’t until the 15th century in France that a game thought of as being similar to poker was first played. Poque was played with 52 cards, just like the deck we play with now, and bears a number of similarities with modern poker that first appeared in America around four centuries later. Poque itself developed from other games that came even earlier, such as brelan in France. Brelan made its way to England, where it evolved into brag. Brag is a game that features bluffing, and is still popular in various forms today.

While poque and poker are similar in some ways, much of the gameplay, bluffing, raising, and betting associated with the latter is unique to poker, and so it is uncertain as to whether the game has any true ancestors. When these aspects were added to the game in the middle of the 18th century in the Mississippi River Delta, we saw the birth of modern poker.

The game had grown to be a popular one by the turn of the 19th century, and only 200 years ago, you could take a seat on a Mississippi riverboat and play the next hand as if you’d been there the whole time. Not only did poker use 52 cards, just like we do now, but it was played in both stud and straight poker versions. They even played heads-up poker, using just 20 cards. Poker spread in America throughout the 1800s. It was played on riverboats up the Mississippi and further, while the game was brought far to the west by the Gold Rush in California. The evolution of poker can also thank the American Civil War, as soldiers with little else to do adopted the game as a pastime.

In the latter part of the 1800s, and into the 20th century, people began to invent new methods of adding excitement to poker. The flush concept was developed around 1850, with the straight added soon afterwards. The wild card was invented around 1875, and people also began to play around with split-pot games and lowball versions. Community cards were first introduced in around 1925.

The First Poker Competitions

Poker grew even further in popularity in the 1900s, although it failed to have expanded beyond riverboats, gambling halls, and saloons. That began to change in 1970 when a gentleman by the name of Benny Binion invited the seven best players in poker to play against one another at his Las Vegas casino.

When it first began, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) wasn’t officially a tournament in the way we know it to be today. Players participated in cash games and cast their vote at the end in order to decide poker’s first world champion.  The WSOP had a huge role to play in the history of poker. It chose No-Limit Texas Hold’em as the game of choice, as it believed it would make for fun viewing, as well as being simple to understand. That was a significant development in Hold’em becoming the world’s most popular poker game.

Real-money online poker was first played on New Year’s Day in 1998. While online poker had been available in the previous few years, it hadn’t been played for real money until now.

The Development of Online Poker

Poker’s popularity grew alongside payment and game technology, and while no one predicted just how big it would become, the potential of online poker was clear to everyone. In 2003, a man by the name of Chris Moneymaker qualified online for the WSOP Main Event in Vegas. Having paid a mere $86 to enter, he proceeded to win $2.5 million and became the game’s first champion. ESPN’s coverage of that story, in combination with online poker, was the main driver behind poker’s popularity boom.

Both online and live dealer poker continues to grow in popularity around the globe. Even now, an online poker renaissance is taking place in the United States as the game is regulated online state by state, with an increasing number of Americans allowed to play poker online. South America, Russia, and Asia are emerging markets and are experiencing a poker boom of their own.

How to play poker

Texas Hold’em is the most commonly played poker variant, the most well-known of all flop-based games, and the most straightforward of all. It’s also the game that brought poker into the mainstream and created superstars like Phil Ivey.

Table: The best ranking hole cards

Ranking Hole cards
1 Pocket* Aces
2 Pocket Kings
3 Pocket Queens
4 Ace-King Suited
5 Pocket Jacks
6 Pocket Tens
7 Ace-King Suited
8 Ace-Queen Suited
9 Ace-Jack Suited
10 King-Queen Suited

*Pocket = two of the same card.

The game begins by each player receiving two cards (known as ‘hole’ cards) and five community dealt in the middle for all players to share. These five cards are dealt in sequence. The first three cards, which are all dealt together, are called the ‘flop’. The fourth card is called the ‘turn’, and the final and fifth card, the ‘river’. There are four rounds, one before the flop, one after the flop, another after the turn, and finally, one after the river. Once the betting is finished, a “showdown” takes place where the player with the best hand wins the pot.

The aim of each player is to form the best five-card hand from the seven cards available. With four rounds of betting, there’s a lot of scope for strategy in poker, which is a big reason why many beginners of choose to play it above all other variants.

The Blinds and the Button

There are two things that are always constant at the beginning of each hand: the blinds and the button. The button is positioned in front of the player whose turn it is. The blinds are forced bets placed by the two players to the left of the button. The small blind is equal to half the quantity of chips of the big blind. Once a hand has been completed, both the button and the blinds move to the next player in a counter-clockwise direction.

When a player has been dealt their two hole cards, they have their first decision to make: whether to play or not. They do this by assessing the value of their cards and deciding whether it’s worth staying in the hand or not. The first player to announce his decision is the player left of the dealer. This continues in a clockwise fashion until each player has stated whether they wish to stay in the game or sit out. If a player chooses to play, he must minimally match the bet of the big blind. The exception is if one of the previous players has raised, in which case he must match the raised bet. When the round of betting reaches the big blind, he still has the option of raising.

The Flop

This flop comprises three shared cards dealt in the middle of the table. Each player may count any number of them as part of his hand. The flop is followed by another round of betting, beginning with, as usual, the player to the left of the button, and continues clockwise. Again, each player can either, fold, check, call, or raise. A check can occur when no money has been bet, so a player may say ‘check’, which means that he wishes to stay in the game but not bet any money. The round of betting continues until each bet has been matched. Then the next card, the ‘turn’, is dealt followed by another round of betting, And the same applies to the fifth card, the ‘river’.

The Showdown

Table: The best poker hands

Rank Hand name Hand description
1 Royal Flush 10, J, Q, K, A of the same suit
2 Straight Flush Five consecutive cards of the same suit
3 Four of a Kind The same card in each of the four suits
4 Full House Three of a kind and a pair
5 Flush Five random cards in one suit
6 Straight Five consecutive cards in mixed suits
7 Three of a Kind Three of the same cards
8 Two Pairs Two pairings of the same card
9 One Pair One pairing of the same card
10 High Card No matching of either card or suit

Each remaining player shows his hand, which is formed by the best five-card combination of the cards dealt to him and the cards on the table. The player with the best hand wins the pot. If more than one hand is of the exact same value, and of a higher value than all other hands, the pot is divided between the winners. The button is then moved in a clockwise direction to signify the start of the next hand.

Types of poker

There are numerous types of poker for you to try your hand at. Some are more famous than others, with the most popular known throughout the world, and the lesser-known types often flying under the radar. Predictably, it’s the more popular games most commonly available at online poker sites, as well as at brick-and-mortar casinos. The most popular version, as mentioned above, is Texas Hold ‘Em, with others including Omaha, Razz, 7 Card Stud, and Five Card Draw.

  • Omaha

A number of similarities exist between Texas Hold’Em and Omaha. Omaha is the second most popular game after Texas Hold’Em, attracting players who like their games to be all-action. There are different version of Omaha available, with Omaha Hi-Lo and Omaha High being the two most popular. The latter is the easier of the two to play, so it’s a good idea to get a hang of that one first. should you be interested in trying Omaha.

  • Seven Card Stud

Before the word got out about Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud was the most popular version of poker among those who were more serious about the game. In this version, you’re given more information than you are with others, with many claiming that this means more skill and strategy are called for, with less reliance on chance.

  • Five Card Draw

Five Card Draw involves less strategy than other poker games and is also one of the easiest to play. These reasons are likely why it’s the poker variant that many learn to play first. It remains a popular home game but is also found at the majority of online poker sites.

  • Razz

While not as well-known as the majority of other poker variants, Razz still manages to attract many players. It can be a confusing game to play at first because it’s low-ball, which means that you’re aiming for the lowest-value hand. Aside from that, the rules are quite simple.

  • Mixed Poker

In mixed poker, you play multiple versions of the game at the same time. The version you play at any one time changes every few hands. Many regard this multiple-game format as the highest test of poker skill. To perform well, you’d need to be adept in a few different versions, so it isn’t really appropriate for those without much poker playing experience.

As well as the aforementioned versions, different formats of poker exist. The main distinction is between tournament games, where players are assigned a certain value of chips, with the aim of winning them all, and cash poker, where money is won and lost with every hand. Speed poker is a younger format, which, as the name suggests, is played at a far faster pace.

We can also divide games based on betting limit. This limit influences the amount that payers can bet at various stages of the game, and heavily influences the strategy used. The main limits are no limit and fixed limit, but there are others, too.

The best Type of Poker for Beginners

If you’ve never played poker before and are wondering where to start, Texas Hold‘em is probably where you should turn to first. Not only is it among the easier games to get to grips with, but it’s also the most widely available, as well as being the most popular. In terms of format, try both tournaments and cash games to find out for yourself which suits you more. Try both no limit and fixed limit for the same reason.

Once you’re comfortable playing Texas Hold’em, it’s time to consider trying out some of the other versions. While many regard Omaha as a good one to learn after Texas Hold’em, ultimately, the choice lies with you. Bear in mind that it’s wise to play with low stakes when you’re starting out with any version of poker, as you don’t want to lose your bankroll due to a rookie mistake.

Poker vs video poker

There’s been a war waging over which poker is better: online poker or video poker. Of course, there are strong similarities, as they’re both derived from the same game. They aren’t without their differences, either, however. Let’s explore those differences in detail.

Level of skill

Online poker is a virtual version of the game, typically played with strangers, although it could be against the website’s CPU system. Online poker offers beginners a way to start playing the game and get to grips with its rules and strategies. It also provides certain benefits such as free games and practice rounds. This helps to teach beginners the game and give them the confidence to take their game to the next level. It’s also a simple game that uses graphics of cards. Online poker does, however, focus on a stringent rulebook that enforces how the game is played and what players can and can’t do. Depending on which version of poker is being played, these rules dictate the player’s decisions, which is sometimes an unappealing aspect to complete beginners.

Video poker is also played online, and with a dynamic appearance and added graphics. Sometimes, the gameplay is modified to resemble a slot game, and is typically centred around a five-card game style, which minimises a need for any advanced strategy. Ultimately, it’s a solo game that allows players to get their feet wet in a casino environment without worrying about what other players might do should they struggle in the early stages of their play. Real money video poker offers players the chance to win a jackpot, as well as take advantage of a bonus through the existing and colourful style of gameplay. There are also multiplayer versions available. Due to the game’s simplicity, only a small amount of poker knowledge is needed, but it’s a great way to learn for beginners.

Strategy

Strategy is one of the best aspects of poker, and is an aspect of the game that appeals to those who love to pit their wits against others, and increases the brainpower of those who play on a regular basis. The game calls for critical thinking, quick decision-making under pressure, and forward planning. Online poker requires more strategic thinking than video poker, especially when it comes to variants that provide a live dealer experience with additional time constraints.

Less strategy is involved in video poker. It does provide other benefits in terms of thinking, however. To make this easier, you will need to ensure that you can carry out simple tasks without even thinking about them. Being successful in video poker can benefit your strategic thinking before you progress to more advanced forms of poker, as it provides a basic education in the game, allowing your brain to think strategically. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any strategy involved at all, however. When it comes to choosing hands and anticipating the next move, it’s a solid game for beginners. It also often lists the winning hand combinations, which is a nice reference point for anyone still becoming familiar with the rules of poker.

Preference 

There are advantages to both video poker and online poker, and so it really comes down to whichever version you prefer. The two games provide different game styles, with each providing something different to cater for whichever mood you’re in. Both games are easier than their counterparts found at a brick-and-mortar casino, which calls for an advanced knowledge of poker and its variants. Video poker and online poker also feature progressive jackpots that appeal to those who play regularly, as the better the player, the more chance they have of winning than at a traditional poker table.

Poker at Mr Green

Mr Green has won numerous titles and awards, including Socially Responsible Operator of the year at the EGR 2012 awards and Casino Brand of the Year from the very same organisation in 2014. One aspect of its casino that Mr Green is most proud of is poker. The casino offers several variants of the game, such as Casino Hold’em, Caribbean Stud Poker, and Three Card Poker. Many of Mr Green’s players enjoy live casino poker and video poker, which we’re going to take a closer look at here.

Live casino poker at Mr Green

Mr Green’s live dealer poker offering is a major attraction for many of its customers. Live dealer poker is unlike other poker games available at the casino, as it involves real-life dealers who deal the cards to you in real-time. This makes for a hyper-realistic experience when you take a seat at the live table, where you’re set for an authentic replica of a poker room found at a brick-and-mortar casino.

Competent and approachable dealers know how to treat the players and will make you feel special. While the streams come direct from Evolution Gaming’s studios, you are presented with a choice of various tables, with all of Mr Green’s live casino action streamed from such gambling venues as Malta’s Dragonara Casino, London’s Hippodrome, and the U.S.A’.s Foxwoods Casino. 

The live dealer poker interface makes it simple to browse through the open tables, join with other players, and just generally, have fun. So don’t worry if you’re new to live dealer poker, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

Video poker at Mr Green

Mr Green offers several variations of video poker, with the most prominent being Jacks or Better, available in two variations. One was developed by NetEnt and allows you two bet on anything from one hand at a time to up to 25 hands simultaneously. Another variation, from IFT, offers an optional side bet that requires you to match three colours in order to get a multiplier on all winning hands. Each of these variants is full-play.

Joker Wild and All American are also available. Both variants are from NetEnt, which means that they can be played in multi-line format, and you can double your wins on all qualifying hands. A number of other variants from IGT are also provided, including Triple Play Draw Poker and Double Bonus Poker.