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Poker: The beginnings

straight flush poker

You could be forgiven for thinking that poker was invented in Las Vegas. In fact historians believe it has its roots in a Chinese domino-card game played nearly 1,000 years ago. In Europe, the direct ancestor to the poker we know today was the 17thcentury Poque. Like its German equivalent pochen, it was based on the Spanish game primero, with the same amount of 52 cards as the modern game.
Poque developed from another French card game called brelan, which, like poker, involves players having to bluff their way to victory. Brelan ended up being exported to the UK where it evolved into brag, a betting game also popular in the British colonies.
While Poque might sound like the natural parent of poker, it is very different too. The way it is currently played, with its bluffs and raises, is exclusive to poker. Poque eventually found its way to French colonies in North America like New Orleans, with English speakers calling it poker after the United States was founded in 1776.
It was via the Mississippi River that it spread to all the country throughout the nineteenth century. As its popularity increased so its rules became more standardised, with 52 cards in a pack and five of them dealt to each player. Additionally, there were stud and straight versions as well as heads-up poker that used only 20 cards.
The gold rush in California only increased its popularity with poker helping soldiers socialise during the American Civil War in the 1860s. By the end of the century, poker was widely played at Wild West saloons. It arrived in England almost by accident. The U.S. ambassador taught it to Queen Victoria who then made it popular in Great Britain and throughout the empire.
Europe started to play the game soon after, with US participation in the two world wars proving the spark that lit the flame. New rules were being added all the time too, with the flush, straight and split-pot games introduced in the late 19thcentury. In 1925 it was the turn of the community cards with Texas Hold’em poker introduced in the 1970s along with the World Series of Poker.

Poker: Getting competitive

Poker was limited to small-time games until 1970 when everything changed. Gambler and casino-owner Benny Binion brought together the top seven players to find out who was best of the lot in Las Vegas.
Binion called it the World Series of Poker (WSOP) with players participating in five poker variants including Texas Hold’em. The seven participants then voted for who would be champion, which in that year was Johnny Moss.
No-Limit Texas Hold’em became the format for the main event the next year as organisers felt it was both straightforward and exciting. This decision made Texas Hold’em become the best known version of poker in the world. The current first prize has risen to a whopping US$10million with Hossein Ensan being the 2019 World Champion.
New Year’s Day of 1998 saw poker being played online for money for the very first time. It marked the beginning of a new era for the game.

Online poker is born

Poker was limited to small-time games until 1970 when everything changed. Gambler and casino-owner Benny Binion brought together the top seven players to find out who was best of the lot in Las Vegas.
Binion called it the World Series of Poker (WSOP) with players participating in five poker variants including Texas Hold’em. The seven participants then voted for who would be champion, which in that year was Johnny Moss.
No-Limit Texas Hold’em became the format for the main event the next year as organisers felt it was both straightforward and exciting. This decision made Texas Hold’em become the best known version of poker in the world. The current first prize has risen to a whopping US$10million with Hossein Ensan being the 2019 World Champion.
New Year’s Day of 1998 saw poker being played online for money for the very first time. It marked the beginning of a new era for the game.

Online poker is born

As the World Wide Web became more financially secure so online poker started to grow. However, back then few people could have foreseen that it would become the multi-billion dollar industry it is today.
It was the 2003 World Series winner who really led that revolution. The appropriately named Chris Moneymaker got into the event through online poker and went on to win the $2.5 million main event, shocking the world in the process.
Television coverage of his story and his online poker background gave his success an even more global appeal. It sewed the seeds of the current online poker boom, catapulting the game onto the world stage.
Fast forward into the year 2000 into the USA where after years of prohibition, individual states started opening their doors to online poker and it started to boom. As the USA softened its stance, so South America, Europa and Asia started to get onboard, with each of these contributing to make a truly global meeting-place of all cultures.

Poker: Playing the game

The most played form of poker is Texas Hold’em, which is easy to learn and simple to understand. Its development online has really made it a worldwide phenomenon, with stars like Irishman Andrew Black earning over 5 million euros from the game.

Table: Best hole (starting) 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 = a pair of similar cards

Texas Hold’em poker games start off with two cards being dealt to each player. These are called ‘hole’ cards. Five community cards are dealt in total and placed in the centre of the table for all participants to match with their own cards. These have different names, with three laid down at the beginning called ‘the flop’ and the two single ones ‘the turn’ and the ‘the river’ respectively. In total, each game consists of four rounds when each player can place a bet. The first bet is made before the flop, the second after it and each time a card is laid down during the turn and river. When all the bets have been placed and the players have either checked or raised, the final ‘showdown’ occurs when the top hand takes the final pot.
The aim of the game is to have the highest scoring hand of five cards from each player’s two cards and the community cards. As there are four rounds, the strategy in poker becomes very important, with the mind games involved making it the most popular variant of the game for newcomers.

blinds button poker

What’s a Blind and Button?

Two of the most important terms to learn are the blinds and the button. Each player will see the button in front of them when it is their turn which rotates around the table.
Blinds refer to the two players to the left of the button at the beginning of each game, that must each make a bet. The big blind must play double the value of chips of the small blind, which goes first. After each game, the blinds change to those place in an anti-clockwise direction.
Poker is all about making the most accurate decision at the right time and the first one comes as soon as a player has the two hole cards. At that point they have to decide whether their hand is good enough to keep on betting. This play is made in a clockwise direction from the left of the starting position of the big blind. If a participant decides to go ahead he must at least equal the big blind bet. However, if the player before them has raised the players, they must equal or raise it further. The big blind also has the opportunity to raise the bet further themselves.

Know what a Flop is?

The three cards placed in the center of the table for all players to match up with their own hand are called the flop. Once it has been dealt, players will start betting from the left of the button in a clockwise direction. The choice here is to fold, check, call or raise. If players don’t want to bet any more funds they can check as long as they have already paid out the amount everyone else has already. This will enable the player to remain in the game unless someone raises. Once all of the participants have paid equal amounts the turn and the river cards are dealt out with the same process occurring for each of them.

Taking part in the Showdown

four aces poker
Table: Top 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

At the end of each game the showdown occurs when each player matches their own two cards with those in the centre to get their top scoring five cards. The players compare their hands with the best one taking the pot. When there is a tie between any number of winning hands, the pot gets split evenly between them. For the next game the button will move clockwise, marking the end of that game.

Different types of poker

poker hands

Other than Texas Hold’em, there are a variety of different poker games to check out. These can be well-known or not, depending on their popularity throughout the years online and in real casinos. Omaha, Razz, Seven-Card Stud and Five Card Draw are four of the most common:

  • Omaha

This variant is only pipped in the popularity stakes by Texas Hold’em. Both are quite alike except that in Omaha each player gets four hole cards, making higher scoring combinations easier to attain. There are different sub-variations like Omaha Hi-Lo and Omaha High. The second is probably the simplest to learn, giving the novice a good idea about Omaha Poker.

  • Seven Card Stud

This form of the game used to be the standard before Texas Hold’em replaced it. Two cards are dealt face down and one facing up to each player. This makes luck less important increasing the need for a sound strategy to make use of that extra information.

  • Five Card Draw

This is the form of poker many people play with friends for fun which is also available at online casinos. Players get five cards at the beginning of each hand and get the chance to replace a maximum of four of them. Strategy is not as vital a part of it but it may be easier for complete beginners to the game.

  • Razz

This form of poker is perhaps not as common as the other variants, but still has some followers. The main thing to keep in mind is that the idea is to get the smallest scoring hand to win the game. This ‘low-ball’ version also doesn’t use flushes or straights, instead preferring combinations known as ‘wheels’ or ‘bicycles’.

  • Mixed Poker

Prefer a mix of all these different incarnations of poker? Well, mixed poker offers just that, making it much more unpredictable what variant will be played next. It normally changes after a number of hands, so being able to understand all of the different versions is essential. In this light, it is probably best left to more experienced all-round poker players.

There are even more alternatives to choose from. Some have chips with different values to provide an opportunity for higher wins or cash poker where there is always cash on the table for each hand. Then there is speed poker which skips a round and is streamlined to take less time.

Concerned about over-betting? Well, choose a betting limit that stops players putting more than a certain quantity of chips into the pot, which in turn moulds tactics. In these games big and small bets tend to be the options available.

Choosing a style of poker starting out

best poker hands
There are so many different version in poker but the one that stands for newcomers is Texas Hold’em. It is the simplest for learning the basics, is accessible from most platforms and has the biggest following. The choice is yours whether to go for a tournament or a cash game with a fixed limit or unlimited betting.
After feeling at home within the Texas Hold’em format, you can look to explore additional variants. Omaha tends to be the way to go when you’re branching out but always remember to not gamble big until you know what you are doing. You will be kicking yourself if you make a silly error of judgment just because of lack of experience.

Online or video poker

flop turn river poker
The jury is still out about whether you should play against other players in the online format or versus the computer in video poker. It is still poker at the end of the day but the finer characteristics change the gameplay and what you get out of the experience, as we can see below.

Skilling up

Opting for online poker is always going to be realistic in that there are often real people taking part. It is a great way for newcomers to make those baby steps into the game and the way each person plays. Often some games are provided free of charge with opportunities to get ready for sterner challenges in practice sessions. The very visual cards provide the foundation to get acquainted with the game so you can progress. Online poker does have strict rules that give each player an idea of how to play the game, like the do’s and don’ts. Of course, these rules differ according to the poker style chosen, which can be a turn-off for those who are completely new to the pastime.

If you prefer more animations that respond to your choices, video poker is a must try. The way it is played can occasionally be like an online slot machine. It is often based on a game of five card poker that makes tactics less important. This sort of game is played alone against the computer giving the opportunity to get acquainted to the online casino dynamic that doesn’t depend on the random choice of other players. Playing real money video poker has the added bonus of having a jackpot up for grabs, with attractive bonuses that are presented in a stimulating setting. While there are opportunities to play with other players, less experience is required, so novices will have an easy ride learning about the game.

Strategy tips

One of the most important aspects of poker is the strategy and tactics used to win. The pulling points of poker are that you really need to outmanoeuvre the opponent, giving you skills you can then use in real life. Thinking critically, making efficient choices in a high pressure environment and thinking ahead are all developed during poker games. Much like a chess match, online poker challenges the player more than video poker, in particular with a live dealer.

Strategy is not as important in video poker but you still need to work out how best to play each hand. Getting used to acting automatically is more important, so you can enjoy the graphical aspects of the user experience. This is the first step to starting to let your mind drift about what strategy you could take into other poker variants against real players. The strategic decisions you need to take are more based on what hand to play and what you will do next. So in this sense newcomers to the game will still enjoy those challenges. Help is at hand too, with the card combinations shown so you know what you are aiming at. This proves useful if you are still coming to terms with where you want to get to with your hand and what you need to replace a bad with in order to win a match.

Choices, choices

As with everything there are pros and cons about choosing to go for video poker or online poker. One way to find out which you like is trying both of them out to see which you enjoy most. It might depend on how you’re feeling at the time too, whether you want to be challenged or just want to wind down. Either way, you will find it much less complicated than going to a casino building where you will really need a deeper understanding of poker in its different forms. Another nice advantage about video poker and online poker is that they sometimes have progressive jackpots which continue rising so there is an opportunity to win a larger sum than at a traditional casino.

Mr Greens Poker Experience

poker chips

If you choose to play poker here at Mr Green you can be assured to get a great experience as we have won a number of titles. In 2012 Mr Green won the Socially Responsible Operator of the year and in 2014 the Casino Brand of the Year at the EGR awards. We take great pride in developing our poker games. Even for more unheard of versions like Casino Hold’em, Caribbean Stud Poker or Three Card Poker, you can be sure that Mr Green has you covered. You may have heard about the much talked about live casino poker and video poker options that we offer.

The next level: Live casino poker

If you like the real life experience of being in a casino from the comfort of your own home, live casino poker could be for you. Real dealers will distribute cards much like in a casino and you really feel the atmosphere of being under pressure to win. Just like a brick-and-mortar casino you will face the challenge of getting the full force of poker with all the unpredictability that makes the experience so exciting.
This choice makes you feel welcome into the world of casinos with qualified dealers who know how to relate to their players in a pleasant manner. Streamed live from Evolution Gaming’s studios, there is a possibility of choosing your table so you are comfortable. Mr Green has some of the top casinos at its disposal too, be it the Hippodrome in London, Malta’s Dragonara Casino of Foxwood’s Casino in the USA.
We make it simple for you to get onto a table you like with different options available. The most important thing is to enjoy yourself, so if you’re new to this sort of experience just get going and you will see how fun it can be.

Mr Green’s Video poker

There are a number of different options available if you go for video poker with our two variants of Jacks or Better proving to be two of the most popular. NetEnt even created one type of video poker that gives you the opportunity to gamble on 25 hands at the same time if you so desire. One game created by IFT gives the possibility of getting a multiplier on a winning hand by making a side bet that combines three colours at once. All these variations are full-pay.
Joker Wild and All-American from NetEnt are other poker games. Giving you the option of make a multi-line bet, you could win twice as much on a hand of cards. Triple Play Draw Poker and Double Bonus Poker are two options from creator IGT, ensuring you never get bored of playing and can do so to your heart’s content.