The Bets Are On!
You bet against other players to determine who has the best hand of cards. Each new deal is a separate game, so you are betting on your current hand—there are no points to be added up at the end. You win if you keep betting and your hand beats every other hand. When the cards are redealt, you start a fresh game with fresh bets. The object of the game is to win the pot!
It's in the Cards
An ante is a Poker stake usually put up before the deal to build the pot. Before the cards are dealt, players toss in a minimum amount of change or chips to start the pot. In home games, a nickel is recommended. In the casinos, the ante will be a low-valued chip.
The amount of betting intervals depends on the game you are playing. One betting interval consists of every active player having had a chance to bid.
Some people will start a hand of Poker with an ante before the cards are even dealt. Antes are used in hands of Draw Poker—less so in Straight Poker.
Betting and folding must be done in turn. Betting goes around the table in a clockwise direction, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. There are three options when it comes to betting:
- Call: This means that you have to contribute to the pot (your bet) as much as—but no more than—any other player per betting interval. So if the betting starts with two chips—you must match the two-chip bet by tossing two chips into the pot. This is called the “call.” You must “call” to stay in the game. If you don't think your hand is worth the chips, you can fold (give up your hand).
- Raise: This means that not only do you call, but you may throw in a few more chips to emphasize that you have confidence in your hand. The next person to bet must call by matching the total amount of chips contributed by the previous player—but is not obligated to raise. So if the last player called with two chips and raised another two chips, you must put in four chips to call. If that player wants to raise, he or she would put in the four chips plus one or more chips to raise. That means the next player would have to put in five or more chips.
- Fold (or drop): If you don't want to participate in the betting, you lay your cards face-down on the table and say, “I fold.” This means the betting skips over you and moves to the next player in turn. Once you fold, you cannot return to that round and you lose the chips you contributed to the pot.
Most Poker games will have a cap on the amount of money you can bet. This is a good idea, or you could lose your shirt. A word of wisdom—no one makes a fortune on small-stakes games, so try to play for fun, not money. If you are playing for higher stakes, remember—this is gambling—never bet the farm!
If you are playing Straight Poker with one betting round, all players must contribute what they owe the pot before revealing their cards. When all the bets are in, everyone reveals their cards and the highest hand wins the pot. You do not need to announce your hand when you lay it down—as often seen in the movies or on TV—the cards will speak for themselves. However, if you are using a wild card, you must announce what card the wild card is representing.
The people who folded during the game are not included in this final phase.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Family Games © 2002 by BookEnds, LLC. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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