This thread is for discussion of all things related to poker. Interested in watching the World Series of Poker in the upcoming weeks on television? Want to know how to play? Want to find out why the Department of Justice hates internet poker sites? You've come to the right place!
What is poker?
Poker is a family of card games that share betting rules and usually (but not always) hand rankings. Poker games differ in how the cards are dealt, how hands may be formed, whether the high or low hand wins the pot in a showdown (in some games, the pot is split between the high and low hands), limits on bet sizes, and how many rounds of betting are allowed.
In most modern poker games, the first round of betting begins with some form of forced bet by one of the players. In standard poker, each player is betting that the hand he has will be the highest ranked. The action then proceeds clockwise around the table and each player in turn must either match the maximum previous bet or fold, losing the amount bet so far and all further interest in the hand. A player who matches a bet may also "raise", or increase the bet. The betting round ends when all players have either matched the last bet or have folded. If all but one player fold on any round, then the remaining player collects the pot and may choose to show or conceal their hand. If more than one player remains in contention after the final betting round, the hands are revealed and the player with the winning hand takes the pot. With the exception of initial forced bets, money is only placed into the pot voluntarily by a player who, at least in theory, rationally believes the bet has positive expected value. Thus, while the outcome of any particular hand significantly involves chance, the long-run expectations of the players are determined by their actions chosen based on probability, psychology and game theory.
The best way I know to describe poker comes from a book I read recently by David Sklansky. Poker is not a game of chance; poker is a game of wagering based on incomplete information.
The types of poker
A complete hand is dealt to each player, and players bet in one round, with raising and re-raising allowed. This is the oldest poker family; the root of the game as currently played was a game known as Primero, which evolved into the game three-card brag, a very popular gentleman's game around the time of the American Revolutionary War and still enjoyed in the U.K. today. Straight hands of five cards are sometimes used as a final showdown, but poker is currently virtually always played in a more complex form to allow for additional strategy.
Cards are dealt in a prearranged combination of face-down and face-up rounds, or streets, with a round of betting following each. This is the next-oldest family; as poker progressed from three to five-card hands, they were often dealt one card at a time, either face-down or face-up, with a betting round between each. The most popular stud variant today, seven-card stud, deals two extra cards to each player (three face-down, four face-up) from which they must make the best possible 5-card hand.
A complete hand is dealt to each player, face-down, and after betting, players are allowed to attempt to change their hand (with the object of improving it) by discarding unwanted cards and being dealt new ones. Five-card draw is the most famous variation in this family.
Community card poker (also known as flop poker)
A variation of Stud, players are dealt an incomplete hand of face-down cards, and then a number of face-up community cards are dealt to the center of the table, each of which can be used by one or more of the players to make a 5-card hand. Texas hold-em and Omaha are two well-known variants of the Community family.
Recent clash between the DoJ and online poker sites:
The charges of violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the operation of an illegal gambling business are suspect because of the gray area regarding the legality of online poker. The money laundering charge also relies on online poker being considered an illegal gambling business. The most serious charge is bank fraud. The indictment alleges that the sites tricked U.S. banks into accepting Internet gambling transactions by disguising the transactions to create the false appearance that they were unrelated to gambling.
Basically, the three major online poker sites were shut down on April 15th, dubbed "Black Friday" by the poker community. All three major sites were apparently involved in money laundering in order to allow US players to deposit and withdraw funds from their websites.
tl;dr Let's talk about poker!