What is Poker

Poker is any of a number of card games in which players wager over which hand is best according to that specific game's rules in ways similar to these rankings. Often using a standard deck, poker games vary in deck configuration, the number of cards in play, the number dealt face up or face down, and the number shared by all players, but all have rules which involve one or more rounds of betting.

In most modern poker games the first round of betting begins with one or more of the players making some form of a forced bet (the blind or ante). In standard poker, each player bets according to the rank they believe their hand is worth as compared to the other players. The action then proceeds clockwise as each player in turn must either match (or "call") the maximum previous bet, or fold, losing the amount bet so far and all further involvement in the hand. A player who matches a bet may also "raise" (increase) the bet. The betting round ends when all players have either called the last bet or folded. If all but one player folds on any round, the remaining player collects the pot without being required to reveal their hand. If more than one player remains in contention after the final betting round, a showdown takes place where 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 either believes the bet has positive expected value or who is trying to bluff other players for various strategic reasons. Thus, while the outcome of any particular hand significantly involves chance, the long-run expectations of the players are determined by their actions chosen on the basis of probability, psychology, and game theory.

Poker has increased in popularity since the beginning of the 20th century and has gone from being primarily a recreational activity confined to small groups of enthusiasts to a widely popular activity, both for participants and spectators, including online, with many professional players and multimillion-dollar tournament prizes.

Some words about History

Poker was developed sometime during the early 19th century in the United States. Since those early beginnings, the game has grown to become an extremely popular pastime worldwide.

In the 1937 edition of Foster's Complete Hoyle, R. F. Foster wrote: "the game of poker, as first played in the United States, five cards to each player from a twenty-card pack, is undoubtedly the Persian game of As-Nas." By the 1990s some gaming historians including David Parlett started to challenge the notion that poker is a direct derivative of As-Nas. Developments in the 1970s led to poker becoming far more popular than it was before. Modern tournament play became popular in American casinos after the World Series of Poker began, in 1970.

Poker on television increased the popularity of the game during the turn of the millennium. This resulted in the poker boom a few years later between 2003–2006.