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Play Poker

Five-card draw poker is played with a standard deck of fifty-two cards. Each player is dealt five cards and then has the option to change up to three of his or her cards. The person with the best cards wins the game.

It is possible to win with a weak hand (if you bluff everyone else into thinking you have a winning hand-more about that later), but there are nine winning patterns to aim for, in order from best to worst:

Royal Flush:

Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, all of the same suit.

Straight Flush:

Five cards of the same suit in numerical order. In a tie, the highest value card wins. If they are identical, the pot is shared. The Ace can count high or low, but not both, so for example K, A, 2, 3, 4 isn’t allowed, but A, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10, J, Q, K, A are valid.

Four of a Kind:

Four cards of the same value. In a tie, the cards with the highest value win.

Full House:

Three of one value, two of another. If two players have a full house, the higher value of the threesome wins.


Five cards of the same suit. In a tie, the person with the highest value cards wins.


Five cards of different suits in numerical order. Again, the Ace can count high or low, but not both, so, for example, 0, K, A, 2, 3 isn’t allowed, whereas A, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 1 0, J, 0, K, A are valid.

Three of a Kind:

Three cards of the same value. If two players have three of a kind, the cards with the highest value win.

Two Pairs:

Two pairs of cards. In a tie the top value wins. If the top value is the same, the bottom value is next, followed by the value of the fifth card.

One Pair:

In a tie the highest value wins, followed by the next highest cards held.


Everyone puts an ante into the pot before the cards are dealt (this amount is agreed upon by players beforehand).

The dealer deals everyone five cards face down. Players look at their cards and betting begins with the first person to the left of the dealer. They can “bet” (placing any amount into the pot, up to the betting limit), “fold” (quit the game), or “check” (stay in the game, but wait for the next round to bet). Once a bet has been made, subsequent players must either “see” (match) the bet,
“raise” (see first, then increase the bet), or “fold.”

After the first round of betting, anyone who hasn’t folded can exchange up to three cards from the dealer.

Betting resumes until there a re no more raises, then everyone shows their cards, and the person with the best hand wins the pot.


Keeping a poker face and d isguising your emotions is a big part of this game, but the most important skill is understanding what your opponents are think­ing-trying to recognize the mannerisms that give them away and tel l you the strength of their hand. Also, mix up your betting. If you bet conservatively, folding every poor hand, when you do eventually bet everyone will know you have a good hand.


Try to think long-term, rather than about winning every time-the trick, when you have a good hand, is to encourage others to stay in the game.

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