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Stepha3nie

Stepha3nie

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PostSubject: Poker   Poker EmptyTue Jun 14, 2016 5:02 pm

Poker:
I don’t claim to be an expert on poker. I learned a variant many years ago, but I haven’t played in ages. What I have done here has been collecting information from several online sources via a certain search machine. I have tried to explain terms as simply as possible and try to give a general overview.
It might help you if a plot bunny decides to throw in some poker for the boys.
 
Anyone who knows more about poker or spots mistakes, please post and let us know.
 
First some terminology:
Game: A game usually consists of several hands. It can last only one hand, or as many as it takes until only one player is left, or it can last for a pre-arranged set of time (however many hands it takes).
E.g. Big Mac’s famous games usually last from Saturday evening until Sunday morning.
Hand: Has several meanings.
1.       The full number of cards one person has been dealt
2.       A certain combination of cards, that makes up a poker hand (e.g. a straight, a full house)
3.       A part of a poker game, which starts with shuffling, cutting, dealing the cards and then consists of round(s) of betting, until the winner of the hand is revealed (either by out-betting all others into giving up, or when called, by putting his winning “hand” down on the table)
Round: Usually refers to round(s) of betting during one hand of poker. Most kinds of poker allow several betting rounds, since betting is the heart of the game. Usually the player left of the dealer starts the betting round, and it then continues in a clockwise fashion around the table. Some games have a maximum number of betting rounds in a hand.
 
Some betting terms:
Check: Usually only allowed in the first round of betting. It indicates, the player does not want to bet (yet), but wants to remain in the game.
Open/Bet: Placing the first bet; all other players now either have to match the bet, or raise it, or fold.
Raise: Means to increase the size of an existing bet (of another player) in the hand currently played.
Depending on the game, players may not only have to top the last bet, but might be required to match the sum of bets so far before adding their own bet.
Some games have set rules on the amount which can/have to be bet (max./min.)
Cowboys or townspeople in a leisurely game might be more likely to set a maximum on bets, so their money lasts longer, while Big Mac would be more likely to set a minimum, so the pot gets fuller. Freshly paid cowboys after a drive were likely to be reckless and bet and lose high.
Call: A call is made to only match a bet or a raise and not bet any higher. Sometimes “Call” is a synonym to “See” (See as in “I want to see your cards, so I’m only matching your money”). If in a betting round, only one player raises, all others call, it means that at the end of this round, the cards will be shown to determine the winner of the hand.
Depending on the rules of the game played, a player might not only have to match the latest bet in order to call, but might have to match the sum of bets of the current hand.
Fold: When a player folds, they concede that they have lost. They may no longer play in this hand and the money they already bet will stay in the pot. Conceding the loss is called “Fold”, because the player folds the spread of cards in his hand together and places them face down on the table.
If in a betting round only one player raises, while all others fold, the betting player has won the round without the need to show his cards.


Shuffling: Mixing the cards in a deck in order to distribute them randomly within it. There are different techniques, e.g. riffling or stripping.
When riffling, the dealer divides the deck into two halves which are placed face down on the table with the short ends next to each other. The dealer lifts a corner of each half deck and lets the cards slip by his thumbs, so that cards from the two stacks interlock. The deck is then pushed together into one whole deck again and can be re-riffled.
When stripping a deck of cards, the dealer holds the deck with one hand, while the thumb of his other hand rests lightly on it. Then the dealer lifts the first hand (with the deck), while the thumb of the other hand strips down one or more cards into the waiting second hand. The first hand moves down again and when it is lifted once more, more cards are stripped into the second hand. This continues until the second hand holds the entire deck. Some strips may contain only one card, some contain several.
Usually cards should be mixed at least three times before a hand. A good dealer uses two (or more) different techniques several times.
Cutting: It is usually done by the player to the right of the dealer. After shuffling, the dealer places the shuffled deck face down on the table. The person cutting it then lifts up some part of the deck (e.g. roughly half the cards) and places it face down next to the other part. The dealer then puts the two parts back together, so that the former top part is now at the bottom.
Shuffling and cutting should rule out (or at least make it really hard) that the dealer places pre-arranged cards at the top or bottom of the deck.
 
 
 
Poker has many variants. Depending on how cards are dealt, poker can be grouped into 4 families.
 
1.       Straight: In Straight Poker, each player is dealt a full hand of cards (facedown) and then the players bet in one round which allows for raising and re-raising
 
2.       Stud: In Stud Poker, cards are dealt in a pre-arranged variation of facedown and faceup cards (e.g. one up, one down, one up,…). The betting rounds take place after each player has received a card, so betting starts after all players have one card, the second cards are dealt and then the second betting round starts, and so on. As more cards are dealt face-up, it becomes more obvious who has a good hand.
 
3.       Draw: Each player is dealt a full hand of facedown cards. A betting round is played, after which each player can try to get a better hand by exchanging cards (the unwanted cards are discarded facedown and the same number of new cards is requested from and dealt out by the dealer). Once each player has been asked if they want any new cards (in exchange for unwanted ones), the betting rounds commence.
5-card-draw means that a full hand of cards consists of 5 cards.
It seems to be the poker variant we usually see in ASJ in the various saloons.
 
4.       Community card: Here, each player is dealt an incomplete hand of cards. A number of cards are then dealt faceup in the middle. Each player can use (each of) these cards to complete a poker hand.
“Texas hold ‘em” belongs in this family.
 
 
Traditional Poker hands:
The highest ranking hands in descending order are:
Straight Flush: 5 consecutive cards of the same suit (hearts, spades, clubs, diamonds), e.g 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 of clubs
The best possible Straight Flush, the unbeatable hand, is a Royal Flush, which consists of 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit.
Four of a Kind: 4 cards of the same rank, one from each suit
Full House: 3 cards of the same rank and 2 matching cards of another rank, e.g. 3 kings and 2 sevens. If several players have full houses, the player with the higher rank in his three matching cards wins (e.g. 3 fours and 2 twos beat 3 threes and 2 aces)
Flush: 5 cards of the same suit, e.g. three, five, six, ten, queen of diamonds. If two players happen to have the exact same flush, only in different suits, the pot is split, because no suit of cards outranks any other. In case of two players having different flushes, the player with the highest ranking card wins.
Straight: 5 cards in sequence, regardless of their suit. The highest Straight ends with an Ace (ten, jack, queen, king, ace), the lowest Straight starts with one (ace, two, three, four, five). A Straight is usually called in combination with its highest card, so the two examples in brackets would be “Straight ace high” and “Straight five high”. If several players have Straights, the one with the highest “high” card wins, if the straights are equal, the pot is divided.
Three of a kind: As the name suggests, it consists of 3 cards of the same rank plus two unrelated cards of different ranks. In case of several threes, the highest one wins.
Two pairs: Again, as the name suggests, the player needs to have one pair of cards of the same rank, another pair of cards of a different matching rank plus one unrelated side card of a third different rank, e.g. 2 sixes and 2 tens and a king. If several players have 2 pairs, the player with the highest ranking pair wins. If two players have the same high pair, the highest low pair wins, if the players hold the same 2 pairs, the player with the highest ranking side card wins.
One pair: The player holds two cards of the same rank plus three unrelated side cards of differing ranks, e.g. 2 kings, 1 ten, 1 five, 1 two. If several players have pairs, the highest ranking pair wins, if two players have the same pair, the highest ranking side card(s) decide(s).
Highest card: The player with the highest ranking card wins. If several players have the same high card, the second highest card wins,…
 
 
So, if you think now of using Two pairs or even Highest card when playing Heyes’ trick of making 5 pat hands out of any 25 cards, think again.
Pat hand is a term in Draw Poker, which describes a hand you can’t improve on by drawing new card(s). Not drawing cards is called “standing pat”. So, Heyes’ pat hands include Straights, Flushes, Full Houses and Four of a Kind. Nothing else.
 
 
Now, to re-cap:
A poker game (usually) consists of several hands. Each hand usually consists of several (betting) rounds.
Before each hand, the dealer shuffles the entire deck of cards, and then lets the player to his right cut the deck.
This means that Heyes can’t use any card counting techniques to win at poker. Counting or remembering cards works for Blackjack, not poker.
Cards are usually dealt one at a time to each of the players, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Someone can be assigned dealer for the entire game (e.g. if a saloon or casino has their own dealers, they will look after the cards and the pot, but not play), or the dealer role is passed around among the players. In this case, the dealer is usually also a player.
When the cards are dealt, the real game, i.e. the betting, starts. In the first round, players can check (remain in the game without betting), but then they either have to bet or fold. Once betting commences, players can raise, call or fold. Either way, money put in the pot remains there until the winner of the hand claims the pot.
 
Math skills are useful. If the game is draw poker, a good player can calculate the odds of other players having certain card combinations depending on his own cards and on the number of discarded/requested cards. But there is no way of knowing which cards exactly someone holds.
E.g if someone requests 3 new cards, chances are they have 2 of the same kind and hope to get a 3rd or even 4th matching card of the same or hope for a full house (the 3 new cards would all have to be the same kind – very unrealistic). They might also be trying to get a flush (cards of the same suit).
If someone discards 2 cards, they might already have 3 of a kind and hope to get the 4th card or a full house (the 2 new cards would have to be of the same kind). Or they could have part of a straight, hoping to get 2 cards to complete the straight. Heyes doesn’t seem to think much of their chances to achieve this (“drawing to an inside straight”). They might also be collecting for a Flush.
If someone requests only 1 card, they are likely to have a good, but not unbeatable hand. They could have 4 of a kind – but if their hand is this good already, why request a new card at all? If they have 3 of a kind, their chances of getting the missing card would be greater by requesting two cards, so this scenario is unlikely. They could try to get the last missing card to a straight or flush. The chances for this are not too good (again, according to Heyes). A likely scenario is that they have two pairs and hope to turn it into a full house. So, if you want to beat them, you will probably need at least two pairs with one pair being really high, or better yet, 3 of a kind.
 
More important than math skills are skills of reading people. Are players comfortable with their hand of cards, are they happy, gleeful, calculating, disappointed, dismayed, do they sweat, start to drink, tap their feet, whistle,…
Do they seem to match their betting to the cards they hold, or do they tend to bluff at least occasionally.
A good memory helps to remember how people react when they have good or bad hands. Maybe players have tells – certain reactions to good or bad cards that they are not aware of.

Poker can be won with the worst hand of cards, if you can read and then out-bluff your opponents. Players can try to fake tells, to make it more difficult for other players to accurately read them. Other players strive for the famous “poker face”, which tells the opponents nothing of what’s going on behind the face.

_________________
"I can resist everything - except temptation"  Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
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Keays

Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyMon Jul 18, 2016 8:39 am

Very helpful, Steph. I'll be coming back periodically to refer to this. Thanks for posting it.
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Keays

Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyMon Jul 18, 2016 8:42 am

One question though, if a hand consists of 8 9 10 Jack Queen, would that still just be a Flush, and nothing more? Although, with a Queen or King as your high card, I expect it would beat out a normal Flush.
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyMon Jul 18, 2016 6:46 pm

Keays, the hand you propose is a straight when the cards consist of more than one suit, but a straight flush when they're all of the same suit.  A straight flush beats a flush. 

Also, if two players have flushes, yes, the high card would prevail in which flush wins.  And if both players have the same high card, the next highest card would prevail (and so on down the line if several high cards are the same).

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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyMon Jul 18, 2016 7:19 pm

Yes, that's what I thought. Close to a Royal Flush, but not quite there.
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyMon Jul 18, 2016 7:24 pm

Well, yes, close, but a royal flush is strictly only the 10 through Ace of the same suit.

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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyMon Jul 18, 2016 9:48 pm

Right. Thanks.
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Stepha3nie

Stepha3nie

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyTue Jul 19, 2016 5:15 am

Ah, Remuda got there before me. Thank you, Rem.

Yes, a straight (5 consecutive cards from different suits) beats a flush (any 5 cards from the same suit). 
And a straight flush (5 consecutive cards of the same suit) beats a straight, even if the straight (with cards from different suits) has higher cards.

And thank you, Keays. I hoped it would be useful. If not as entertaining as Riders' link to poker cheats. ;-)

I still don't get how cheaters can get away with a pre-stacked pack. Normally a pack gets shuffled before dealing. They must be extremely good if they can maintain their pre-stacked order through a shuffle!

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"I can resist everything - except temptation"  Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyTue Jul 19, 2016 7:59 am

I don't know either. I know they can mark cards, so they know it's coming up. Or, as we've seen in ASJ, having one in the palm of their hand, or up a sleeve. Not worth the risk, really.
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyTue Jul 19, 2016 6:18 pm

There is also counting cards.  If you're really good at it, you can win a lot of the time.

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Stepha3nie

Stepha3nie

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyWed Jul 20, 2016 4:49 am

How can that work with poker, Rem?

Assuming that for each hand all cards are put back in the deck and re-shuffled (as they should be).

Counting cards is great for Blackjack.

Other cheating methods for poker are: 
-in some way exchanging cards with a partner (during the final spread - as demonstrated by the cheaters in Wickenburg, or at any time by two partners sitting next to each other - as explained on the poker cheats side)
- having a partner signal what other people hold in their hands

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"I can resist everything - except temptation"  Oscar Wilde
For me temptation is Hannibal Heyes, especially in chaps!
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Keays

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyWed Jul 20, 2016 7:56 am

Even at blackjack, counting cards is very difficult. Often, more than one deck is used (this is called a shoe) and if the dealer is worth his salt, he will shuffle the shoe between each game to keep players from doing just that.
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyWed Jul 20, 2016 7:25 pm

Sorry, got my games mixed up.  Yes, counting cards is done in blackjack, not poker. 

Also, in my experience at least six decks are used in a shoe in blackjack, and depending on the house, are reshuffled when there are only so many cards left in the shoe, when so many hands have been dealt, or when a new dealer comes on board.

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Stepha3nie

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyThu Jul 21, 2016 5:21 am

Ah. Thanks, Keays and Rem. I didn't know about the shoe.

But it makes sense. They probably had too many people count cards and win like Heyes did in the Hadleyburg episode.  Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Poker   Poker EmptyThu Jul 21, 2016 7:30 am

Yes, that's usually why they did it. If you (Steph) see anything blaring out at you as wrong, in my latest chapter, please let me know.
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