Learn to play like 007 ahead of the Texas Hold'em
Poker showdown with Le Chiffre in Casino Royale...
Play Poker Like Bond
11th November 2006
When James Bond is sent to the Casino Royale to defeat Le Chiffre,
a villainous banker to the world's terrorists, the dual is not
with the usual guns and gadgets, but with hands of cards. In
an update to Ian Fleming's original 1953 novel where the action
took place over a game of Baccarat, the 2006 film features the
popular game Texas Hold'em Poker. Now you can learn to play
The Object. Like all gambling, the objective
is to win money. With poker, you are trying to win the other
players' money, not
the casino's money. The casino makes its money by taking a rake,
which is a small percentage of the money the players bet. Betting
is done with standard casino-style chips.
The Play. Unlike most casino games where you
bet, get your cards, and then it is over, with Texas Hold'em
you get some cards, make
a bet, get some more cards, bet again if you like, and continue
this process a few more times. You can bail at any point, which
is called folding. This saves you from having to keep kicking
money in, but it means you forfeit any money you have already
bet since you are no longer in the game. Of everyone left standing
at the end, whoever has the best poker hand wins. What they win
is the pot, which is all the money that
all the players have bet that round -- sometimes minus a 5% rake,
which is the commission the casino takes for hosting the game.
Poker Hand Rankings
H = Hearts, C = Clubs, D = Diamonds, S =
High Card. Absent any better hand listed below, whoever has
the highest card wins. The highest cards, from lowest to highest,
is Jack, Queen, King, Ace, which we abbreviate J, Q, K, A. The
hand [K 7 5 4 3] beats the hand [Q 7 5 4 3] because king beats
queen. If two players have the same high card then the second-highest
card wins. So [K J 9 6 5] beats [K 10 9 6 5] because jack beats
ten. If two players both have the same high card and second-highest
card then you look at the third-highest card, and so on.
Pair. A pair is a hand with two cards of the same rank, like [9 9 5 4 3]. A
pair beats a high card even if the rank of the pair is lower. For example, [2
2 9 5 4] beats [A K Q J 9]. All those high cards are helpless against a pair
of twos. If two players have a pair then the highest pair wins. If two players
have the same pair then you look at the highest card outside the pair to see
Two Pair. A hand like [4 4 7 7 Q]. Same disclaimers for breaking ties as for
Three of a Kind. This is just what it sounds like, three cards of the same
rank, like [5 5 5 9 8]. As with pairs, with multiple players have three of a
kind then the highest one wins, and high cards break ties.
Straight. A straight is a hand with consecutive ranks, like [6 7 8 9 10]. An
ace can also count as 1 to complete a straight where the other cards are 2, 3,
4, and 5, or as a high card to complete a straight where the other cards are
10, J, Q, K. But it can't count as both a low and a high card, e.g., Q K A 2
Flush. All the cards are the same suit, like 9C QC 10C 4C 6C.
Full House. A pair and a three of a kind, like 9C 9H 4D 4C 4S.
Four of a Kind. Four of the same rank, like 3H 3C JD 3D 3S.
Straight flush. A hand that's both a straight and a flush, like 7H 8H 9H 10H
Royal flush. A straight flush composed of the highest cards, such as 10H JH
QH KH AH. But of course they don't all have to be in order. QH 10H AH JH KH
still a royal flush. The Royal Flush is the jackpot in video poker, and comes
around about once out of every 40,000 or so hands -- or a week and a half of
1. Posting the Blinds. Two
players each make a mandatory small bet before any cards are
dealt. This ensures that there is something
for everyone to play for if no one decides to bet after that.
This responsibility rotates around the table from round to round
so that everybody shares the burden of posting the blinds throughout
2. The Deal. Each player gets two cards, face-down. These are called the hole
cards. Players place their bets, or fold (bail out).
3. The Flop. Three community cards are dealt face up to the
centre of the table. Each player can use any or all of these cards along with
his/her hole cards
to make the best five-card hand. This is done in your head; nobody touches
the community cards. The players bet again, or fold.
4. The Turn (aka Fourth Street). A fourth community card is
dealt. More betting, ensues.
5. The River. The fifth and final community card is dealt. Followed by the
6. The Showdown. Anyone still in the game (i.e., anyone who hasn't folded)
puts their cards down face-up so all the players can see who won. The winner
takes the pot, all the money that was bet during that round.
Types Of Poker Bets
Players must match the current bet. There's
a basic concept that's easy to understand: Once any player has
made a bet, then
all the other players have to at least match that bet to stay
in the game. If Player 1 bets $10, then all the other players
have to also kick in at least $10 if they want to stay in. They
have to stay in, of course. They can fold, which means giving
up and removing themselves from the current round. But naturally
this means that they have no chance of winning back their money
in that round.
This is why poker is a battle of wills peppered by strategy
and bluffing. During a round the amount bet grows progressively
higher, and each player has to decide whether their hand is really
strong enough to win the pot if they keep kicking money in --
or whether they can get their opponents to think they have a
strong hand so their opponents decide to fold. If all players
fold besides you, then you win.
Fold. Bail out of the game.
Bet. Make a wager.
Check. Pass (neither fold nor bet).
Call. Match the current bet.
Raise. Exceed the current bet.
Limits and Blinds
Limits. Games are either structured,
where the amount you bet is fixed, or no limit, where the amount
can bet is unlimited.
Beginners should definitely play structured games. They are
easier to understand, and much less risky. In a structured game
you bet depends on which betting round it is. For example, in
a $10/$20 game, the bet is $10 after
the deal and the flop, and $20 after the turn and the river.
A raise has to be the same amount as a bet.
The Blinds. At the beginning of each round (before the cards
are dealt), two players must make a mandatory bet. This ensures
that there's something to play for. Otherwise everyone could
check on every turn and at the end there would be no money to
win. Think of the blinds as pre-bets. One player posts (makes)
the small blind and the next player posts the big blind. A big
blind is equal to the small bet. For
example, in a $10/$20 game, the big blind is $10. The small blind
is usually half that, in this case $5. Players take turns posting
the blinds so that the responsibility hits each player equally.
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