Tutorial

Casino Games

At Dragonara we pride ourselves in servicing our guests and make their stay with us memorable. For first-timers as well as interested players we have compiled a little history and tutorial on the most popular casino games: Roulette, Blackjack, Craps, Baccarat, Poker and Slot Machines.


Have an enjoyable read and learn more about one of the oldest pastimes of mankind…

 

 

 

 

EUROPEAN ROULETTE

Roulette(translated: Small Wheel) is to this day one of the most popular casino games around the world. The three main types are American Roulette, French Roulette and the best value game which is European Roulette.

To determine the winning number and colour, a croupier spins a wheel in one direction, spins a ball in the opposite direction around a tilted circular track running around the circumference of the wheel. The ball eventually loses momentum and falls on to the wheel and into one of 37 (in French/European roulette) or 38 (in American roulette) coloured and numbered pockets on the wheel.

 

History
The origins of Roulette are believed to go back as far as ancient Egypt. Stories tell the tale of a sphere which carried various symbols and players would put tokens on selected symbols while the sphere was spinning. Although this is not historically proven, many casino games date back in time when gaming was a not only a popular pastime but a social event.

 

European Roulette as we know it today was, as is the case in many discoveries, a by-product of a scientific experiment carried out by French physicist, mathematician, philosopher and inventor Blaise Pascal. His original challenge was to create and design a perpetual motion machine that would be able to overcome energy loss as it turned, in consequence never stop moving. Unfortunately he did not possess the knowledge we have today, basically determining that the laws of thermodynamics are rendering this impossible. However, he did manage to gain recognition in gaming history, as his prototype wheel became the basis for the modern roulette wheel.

 

Roulette play was first mentioned in a French novel at the end of the 18th century, which described the game as central attraction of the Parisian casino Palais Royale. Through this novel, the game became very popular across Europe. The original roulette wheel had slots for a single zero and a double zero. In 1843, French brothers François and Louis Blanc invented a single-zero roulette-wheel in the town of Homburg in Germany, mainly to establish a unique type of this game compared to all other casinos. This variation was the defining feature of what became known as Roulette. The game was an immediate success, however, the two inventors had to turn elsewhere when Germany banned gaming in the 1860s. Although Bad Homburg is to this day one of Germany’s traditional casino venues, the next stop for the brothers Blanc finally established casino history: Monte Carlo. The game, placed in the classy Mediterranean environment, soon became the main factor for the rise of Monte Carlo as the high society spot of European casino gaming. Guests and players from all over the world carried its fame into casinos across the globe.

 

The Game
In the game, players may choose to place bets on either a single number or a range of numbers, colours red or black or whether the number is odd or even.

 

Roulette Bets
There are two main categories of betting when playing European Roulette:

 

  • Inside Bets, placed on any Roulette Numbers on the table (i.ea a bet on a single number)
  • Outside Bets, placed outside the European Roulette table layout (such as Odds or Evens, Red or Black).

 

As in any game, there are strategies which are usually based on the probability of game-outcomes. For the European rules the payoff quotas and probabilities look like this:

 

Bet on

Example

Payoff quota

Probability

Any number

7

35:1

2.7%

2-number-combination

8-9

17:1

5.4%

3-number-combination

13-14-15

11:1

8.1%

4-number-combination

4-5-7-8

8:1

10.8%

6-number-combination

25 through 30

5:1

16.2%

Column

1,4,7....28,31,34

2:1

32.4%

Dozen

1,2,3....10,11,12

2:1

32.4%

Even or odd number

2,4,6....32,34,36

1:1

48.6%

1-18 or 19-36

1 through 18

1:1

48.6%

Red or black

All red numbers

1:1

48.6%

 

Roulette was and is the classic casino game. In land-based casinos such as the Dragonara, it is the centre of attraction, in our online casino it is one of the most popular games.

 

 

 

 

BLACK JACK

Blackjack, a.k.a twenty-one, is the most played casino banking game in the world. It is basically a comparing card game between one or more players and dealer. This means that players compete against the dealer, not against other players as for instance in Poker.

 

History
Blackjack is widely believed to have originated in French casinos around 1700, at the time it was called Vingt-et-Un (French for twenty-one). It was probably derived from French card games Chemin de Fer, and French Ferme, which were extremely popular at the time. Another version, 'One and Thirty', was played in Spain where the basic rule was to reach 31 with a minimum of three cards. As is the case in many game-histories, there is also the belief of this game to originate from ancient cultures, in this case the Romans who are reported to have played this game using wooden blocks of different numerical values. Granted, the Romans loved their gambling but lack of documentation renders this a theory. After all, it was 'Vingt-et-Un' or '21' that consistently grew in popularity. It was carried to North America by French colonists and was soon played all over the continent. Rules were different to modern blackjack, only the dealer was permitted to double and a betting round was held between each of the playing cards dealt.

 

The game was still branded '21' from its origin when it took Nevada by storm in 1931, when the State made gambling legal. This era also saw the dawn of what is today called casino promotion or bonus, in this case a special bet that also gave the game its name: If a player held a hand featuring either of the black jacks (the Jack of Spades or Clubs) and the Ace of Spades, the casino would pay 10-to-1 odds on the player's bet. Although casinos abandoned this form of pay-out, the name 'blackjack' or 'black jack' stuck to the game and became its new identity.

 

Like many card-games, Blackjack was not invented by one person or culture at a definite point of time but rather has evolved over centuries and continues to do so even today, transported and energized by the Internet. During the rise of online casinos, the industry has developed various versions of the game, showing once more that global communication and interaction have an immense impact on popular pastimes and products..

 

The Game
Blackjack is played with one or more decks of 52 cards, the goal is to reach 21 points or a score higher than that of the dealer without exceeding the score of 21.

 

The player(s) are dealt an initial two-card hand, they then add the total of their cards. Face cards (Kings, Queens, and Jacks) count ten points. Players and dealer can count their own ace as either 1 or 11 points. All other cards count the numeric value shown on the card. After receiving the initial two cards, players have the option of getting a Hit which is taking an additional card. In a given round, the player or the dealer wins by having a score of 21 or by having the highest score that is less than 21 points. Scoring higher than 21 points (Busting or Going Bust) is a loss. A player may win by having any final score equal to or less than 21 points if the dealer busts. If a player holds an ace valued as 11, the hand is called Soft, meaning that the player cannot go bust by taking an additional card; otherwise, the hand is "hard".

 

The dealer has to take hits until his cards total 17 or more points. Some casinos have their dealers also hitting on a Soft 17, i.e. on initial ace and six. Players not going bust and with a points-total higher than that of the dealer win the game-round. The dealer loses if either he busts or has a lesser hand than the player who has not gone busted. The situation when player and dealer have the same points-total is called Push, a player usually doesn’t win or lose money on such a hand.

 

 

 

 

CRAPS

Craps is a dice game in which the players make wagers on the outcome of one or a series of rolls of a pair of dice. Players can wager money against each other (Street Craps, a.k.a Shooting Dice or Rolling Dice) or a bank (Casino Craps, a.k.a Table Craps).

 

History
Craps emerged from a simpler form of the early English Game of Hazard. Its origins date further back to the crusades, later influenced by French gamblers. The direct predecessor of the modern American version was brought to New Orleans by Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville, a descendant of wealthy Louisiana landowners, gambler and ironically also a politician. The flaw in in the Bernard-version of the game, however, was that players could exploit the casino using fixed dice and take advantage of the way they bet with or against the dice thrower. John H. Winn later introduced the Don't Pass betting option abolishing this problem and establishing the version of Craps that still exists today.

The original name crapaud (French for toad) made reference to the original style of play, when people crouched over a floor or sidewalk. Its modern popularity is owed to Street Craps which is played by rolling the dice against a back-stop, such as a curb or stair-stoop. During World War II, street-style Craps became very popular among soldiers who often used Army blankets as a shooting surface. With no backboard or sidewalk curb to hit against this produced manifold methods of dice control, the most commonly used was known as the Army Blanket Roll.

 

The Game
In a casino, players make bets with chips on a specially made Craps table with a table cloth made of felt that displays the various betting possibilities. Most casinos feature Craps tables which are double sided, having identical layouts on both ends of the table with the centre bets in the middle. This version allows more players to participate with a maximum of 8 players on each side of the centre line. Players can make multiple bets for each turn, round, or roll.

 

A casino craps table is run by up to four casino employees:


  • A Boxman who guards the chips and supervises the dealers as well as handling colouring out of players, the term for exchanging small chip denominations for larger denominations in order to control the amount of the chips on the table)
  • Two Base Dealers placed to either side of the boxman, collecting and paying bets
  • A Stickman standing directly across the table from the boxman, taking bets in the centre of the table (hard ways, yo, craps, horn, etc.), announcing the results of each roll, collecting the dice with an elongated wooden stick, and directing the base dealers to pay winners from bets in the centre of the table.

Each of the four makes sure that his colleagues are paying out winners correctly. During off-peak times only one base dealer will be attending the table leaving only half the table open for players. Alternatively, one of the two base dealers can assume the role of the stickman. Some casinos, don’t place a boxman at table, his duties are being shared between the dealers and a roving supervisor covering many tables.

 

Basic Example of Play
To place a Pass Line bet, you put your bet on the Pass Line before the shooter rolls his come out roll. Let's say you bet $5 (a "nickel" in betting lingo). The shooter starts off hot and rolls a 7 right off the bat. You just doubled your money and now have $10. You can either take your winnings and keep your original bet on the table or else let it ride and double your bet (called pressing your bet). You decide to press your bet. Now the shooter rolls an 8, so 8 becomes the point. Remember, you want to see another 8 before you see a 7. The dealer places a white puck called a marker puck on the number 8 in the Place Bets section of the table to mark the point. (When the black side of the puck is showing, no point has been established.) The next roll is a 3, then a 5, and finally an 8 the hard way (two fours). You've just doubled your money again. Now you can either pick up your bet or place another one for the next roll. That's all there is to the most basic craps game.

Your ideal strategy to get to know more about craps is to refer to the abundance of online guides teaching you about the etiquette and basic game-plans. Note, however, that the vast majority deal with the real (physical) craps table game and you should always check to which extent these rules and game-versions apply to online craps.

 

 

 

 

BACCARAT

Baccarat is a “Single Play” game meaning that players will only make one move for each hand unlike other card games such a Blackjack, where players make decisions and moves during game play. In Baccarat players simply choose one of the 3 available bets (banker, player or a tie) the cards will then be dealt according to a set of rules.

 

History
In both Italian and French, Baccarat translates to Zero. Very much like the dispute about Christoph Columbus’ nationality, the discussion where this game originated has never ceased, especially since Baccarat is one of the oldest casino games in the history of gambling. The name Baccarat stems from one of the main rules in the game stating that all ten-value cards including tens, queens, kings and jacks all have a value of 0. In addition, the term also describes a hand with a total of 10 points. For example, if a hand holds a 7 and a 3, the total is 10 which is equal 0, thus the hand is called Baccarat. The first records of this game date back to the 1400s and originate from Italy (hence the discussion). Legend goes further even as far as the middle ages, where the game was supposedly first created by Italian gambler Felix Falguierein and was first played with the deck of Tarot cards. Even though Baccarat is a French word, it is derived from the Italian word Baccara, which means zero. This explains why Baccarat is the losing hand.

 

The game is believed to have been introduced to France from Italy in 1490 by soldiers of Charles VIII. during his reign of France (he ruled 1483-1498). The emerging French version of baccarat became the initial version of baccarat called Chemin de Fer (railroad) and was the template for modern baccarat. So, despite its early debut it took Baccarat more than five centuries to mainstream gambling and become a premier casino game in Europe. Before then, the game was a very popular gambling game among the royalty class in France during the 16th and 17th century, using various Baccarat versions.

 

Over the course of time, the three main versions that remained popular are Punto Banco (the most popular version in the U.S), Chemin de Fer (rest of the world) and Baccarat Banquet (a.ka. A Deux Tableaux Baccarat). All three games follow the same guidelines and basic rules but differ in their gaming procedure as well as the dealing order of the cards. The arrival of online gambling, made Baccarat one of the greatest online casino games available. Whether based in the U.S or Europe, players can find any version of Baccarat at the online tables. Due to its popularity, Baccarat can even be found at the Live Casinos as it lets players interact with a live dealer and other players during the game play, adding to the fun and excitement of the online Baccarat experience.

 

And let us not forget the fact that Chemin de Fer is the favoured game of a certain secret agent who plays this game in various novels and films, most notably in the 1953 debut, Casino Royale where the entire story revolves around a game between Bond and SMERSH operative Le Chiffre. It is also featured in several filmed versions of the novels, including Dr. No, where Bond is first introduced playing the game, Thunderball, the 1967 version of Casino Royale featuring the most detailed treatment of a baccarat game in any Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only and Goldeneye. The remake of Casino Royale in this century saw the game replaced by Texas Hold’em Poker, at the time the rising star of online card-gambling.

 

The Game
Punto Banco, (translated: Player- Banker) is a game of chance and luck. It does not involve any decisions or skills as the outcome solely depends on the cards that are dealt to player and banker. The other two versions, however, Chemin de Fer as well as Baccarat Banquet both involve skill where players have to make decisions affecting the game play.

 

The basic concept of Baccarat is to compare between two hands, one of which belongs to the player while the other belongs to the dealer (bank or banco). Therefore each round will have one of three possible results: The player’s or the dealer’s hand will win or the round ends in a tie. Note that both rules and the cards-value are different from other card games. Even in the gaming procedure and dealing order one Baccarat version differs from another.


Punto Banco
The cards are dealt face down, first to the player, then to the banker then again to the player and again to the banker. This initial deal consists of two cards each. Next, both cards in each hand are turned over and added together. The croupier (in land-based casinos overseeing play, in online casinos coming from the application) calls out the total (i.e. 4 to the player, 3 to the bank). From then onwards, the Tableau (table of play) is used to determine if further cards need to be drawn. Depending on the value of each hand, player and banker may have to draw a single card or stand.

 

Drawing Rules - Initial Deal
If either player or the banker has a total of 8 or 9 on the initial deal (a.k.a. Natural), no further cards are being drawn. Otherwise, play proceeds as follows. 

Drawing Rules - Player
If the player has an initial total card value of 0-5, he draws a single card. If the player has an initial total of 6 or 7, he stands. 

Drawing Rules - Banker
The banker's play depends on 3 prerogatives:

1. Whether the player drew a card

2. what card the player drew

3. the banker's hand:

  • If the player did not draw a card, the banker draws if he has 0-5, and stands if he has 6-7.
  • If the player drew a 2 or 3, the banker draws if he has 0-4, and stands if he has 5-7.
  • If the player drew a 4 or 5, the banker draws if he has 0-5, and stands if he has 6-7.
  • If the player drew a 6 or 7, the banker draws if he has 0-6, and stands if he has 7.
  • If the player drew an 8, the banker draws if he has 0-2, and stands if he has 3-7.
  • If the player drew an ace, 9, 10, or face-card, the banker draws if he has 0-3, and stands if he has 4-7.

 

The croupier will deal the cards according to the tableau, the hand with the highest total wins and the croupier announces the winning hand - eitherpPlayer or banker. Losing bets are being collected, the winning bets will be paid according to the house rules. Winning player bets are usually being paid at 1-to-1 (100%) and winning banker bets will usually be paid 95%, with a 5% commission going to the house.

If banker’s and the player’s hands show the same value, then all tie bets are to be be paid at 8-to-1 odds while all bets on player or banker will remain in place and stay active (sweeten the pot) for the next game.

 

Chemin de Fer
In this game, six decks of cards are in play and are all shuffled together. Players are seated around an oval table, any discarded cards will go to the middle of the table.

 

The game starts with the player seated to the right of the dealer, from there the game takes a counter-clockwise direction. One of the seated players will become the banker and deals the cards while the other players become the bettors. For the following game-rounds the banker-position is passed around in the same direction as is the play. The banker also places a bet and the bettors are to see whether they want to match the wager of the banker. One of the players must go bank, meaning that he will match the bank’s wager. If no player goes bank, the player having placed the highest individual wager will be the one speaking for the bettors. If the bettors’ total bets do not match the wager of the banker, other punters who are observing the game will be permitted to place wagers so that a total bet can be reached matching the banker’s bet.

 

Now the banker deals two cards to the players and to himself. The banker and the player representing the punters check and see the cards. Two scenarios can emerge:

 

  • If any of the hands show a total of 8 or a 9, both have to say so, reveal the hands. A comparison is carried out - the hand showing the highest total will win.
  • If none of the hands are equal to 8 or 9, the player can decide whether he wants a third card. If he does so the card will be dealt facing up for everyone to see.

The latter is a situation that mathematically demands another card if the hand total lies between 0 and four. On the contrary, players should not ask for another card if the hand shows six or seven. After the player makes his choice about the 3rd card, the banker has his turn to make the same decision. After both have made their decision all cards will be turned, counted and compared. The hand showing the highest total is the winning hand. When the player’s hand wins, bettors will get their wagers back plus winnings. the position of the banker will be passed on to the next player. If the banker wins, the bank-position will remain with him and the players will lose all of their bets they had placed at the baccarat table. Then as well, another round begins.

 

 

 

 

SLOT-MACHINES

A slot-machine is a gambling machine with three or more reels that start to spin when a button is pushed. Slot machines are also known as one-armed bandits because they were originally operated by a lever on the side of the machine (hence the term arm) instead of a button on the front panel. The bandit part of the name was coined by the unlucky players who lost and needed the machine (or its inventor) to blame.

 

Many modern machines still have a legacy lever in addition to the button. The machine pays off based on patterns of symbols visible on the front of the machine when it stops. Modern computer technology, especially within online gaming, has resulted in many variations on the slot machine concept.

 

History
The first slot machine on record dates back to 1895, invented by the so-called father of slot machines Charles Fey. He constructed a slot machine that featured poker symbols on its three spinning reels, including hearts, horseshoe, bells and spades. As the game only showed 3 reels on its screen, winning combinations could be easily set to pay-out automatically. The pay-table of the game was situated at the top and displayed the various winning combinations. The highest combination, three bells on the win-line, paid 50 cents.

 

In 1891, Sittman and Pitt invented a different type of slot-machine that already looked very much like the slots that can still be found up to this day. This machine ran five drums and 50 cards and was also themed around the game of poker. Thus, players were paid according to the poker hand they obtained with reel-combinations. Players would start the game by putting a nickel into the slot and pull the lever to start spinning the drums to spin and obtain a poker hand. In those early days when fairplay was a virtue yet to be discovered, the game did not have a 10 of Spades or a Jack of Hearts and by working so increased the odds of the house and made it hard to obtain a poker hand such as a Royal Flush. Also, many of these machines were viewed as entertainment and value-addition, thus they would rather pay players in the form of gifts such as cigars, drinks or food sold at the bar where it was being offered.

 

In 1907 Herbert Mills created a machine called Operator Bell and within as little as one year, he had a lot of these slots installed in bowling alleys, cigar stores or saloons. You can still find one of these original slots called Liberty Bell in the Reno-based restaurant Liberty Bells Saloon. The biggest technical development happened in 1963, when Bally introduced the first electromechanical slot-machine named The Money Honey. This slot was the first to feature a bottomless hopper and offered automatic pay-outs. The largest win was 500 coins. This slot-machine marked the beginning of the immense impact electronic gambling had on casinos, for which the monumental rise of Las Vegas casinos in those days was exemplary.

 

In the 1990ies, multi-line-slots made an entrance to slot-machine gambling. The main innovation here was rewarding for players and casinos alike, as these machines allowed more than one winning line. Players could now claim pay-outs according to combinations on more than one line which are aligned on the game-screen. With the arrival of online gambling, slots were amongst the first games to be transformed into online games. Today even land-based casinos place these modern multiple, video and 3-D slots next to classic slot-machines, offering games that offer up to 100 lines and 1024 ways to win. In addition, a large variety of bonuses are being dealt to players in the form of wilds, scatters and rewarding jackpots.

 

The game
In an online casino the player plays with virtual chips and on a click, usually the virtual push on a button - the reels, which carry the game’s symbols are set in motion. The object of the game is to have equal symbols on the pay-line. The number of reels, lines and symbols vary from machine to machine. These days, symbols are not limited to fruit, numbers or card-game values but include anything the game-theme establishes, from seafood to Batman’s favourite weaponry. Because of this large variety, players, especially newcomers, should first choose the game, then choose their wagers. Choosing wagers at any slot machine (no matter whether it is a classical or a multi-line video slot) includes three steps:

 

  • First, choose the number of lines you want to activate by placing your stakes on.
  • Then, choose the coin value you want to use to place wagers and get rewards.
  • Thirdly, choose the number of coins you wish to place on every activated line.

The sum of these determinations creates the wager you will place. The total amount of the bet is displayed next to the spinning button. After the wager has been placed the game starts by clicking on Spin. This button is usually placed directly under the reels in the control panel of the game, right between or next to the wagering options explained above. The symbols will start to spin and once they stop, winnings will be credited to you according to the pay-table, your bet and the winning combination. The pay-table can often be viewed at the top of the screen, under a functional button to view pay-tables or under a button oepening the game-rules embedded in every online-slot, usually placed on the lower screen next to the help-button.

 

Types of Slot Machines

Main types of slot-machines: 


  • Straight Slots: Payoffs never change and increase only (at a fixed ratio) when more coins are inserted
  • Progressive Slots: The winning jackpot becomes progressively larger as more coins are wagered. This jackpot continues to increase at a fixed percentage rate, based on how many coins are played over a long period of time.

 

Further variations of slot-machines:


  • 1-line, 3-reel: Win by lining up the proper symbols on one pay line.
  • 3-line, 3-reel: Win by lining up the proper symbols on any of three pay lines. Payoffs increase proportionally. The same symbols that would win 20 coins on a one-line, three wheel slot-machine would only pay ten coins on the first line, 20 on the second and 40 on the third.
  • 5-line, 3-reel: Pays off on the three horizontal and on two diagonal lines as well.
  • Pay-for-Play: You only qualify for the wins associated with the number of coins you insert. One coin allows you to win on one line. Two coins allow you to win on two lines or twice the payout. Three coins allow you to win on all 3 lines or in some cases three times the pay-out.
  • Branded Slots: Involve the same technology as above but carry a popular theme (i.e. Lord of the Rings or Batman).
  • Progressive jackpot machines: Today, many jackpots not only involve your individual play but that of all players of an online-casino or even all online-casinos sharing the same game by the same operator. Those jackpots increase even higher and faster, allowing wins similar in value to those of lotteries.

 

 

 

 

POKER

Poker is a five-card vying game which is played using standard playing-cards.

A vying game means that players do not play out their cards (the card-set they hold is called hand) but hold on to them and bet on holding the best card combination, progressively raising the stakes until either

 

  •  there is a showdown where the best hand wins all the stake (The Pot)

or


  • all but one player have given up betting and dropped (fold) out of play when the last person to raise (forcing the others to folds) wins the pot without a showdown.

 

Since the betting happens with all hands concealed, winning the game doesn’t necessarily require holding the best hand. It can be won with little or no value by fooling other players into believing that the hands they hold are inferior. This aggressive play with no backing-up by card-value is called bluffing. The expression was coined by this game. In fact, one of Poker's earliest names was therefore Bluff.

 

History
As many traditional games including the aforementioned, Poker also derives from games played centuries ago and spread through the wandering populations. Literature notes that in the 1937 edition of Foster's Complete Hoyle, "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”. In recent decades, gaming historians such as David Parlett questioned this ancestry. This newer approach named European Poque, a French game similar to poker which descended from the German Pochen (to brag as a bluff, translated to knock) and the Irish Poca (Pocket). Although it is unclear whether the origins of poker itself lie with the games bearing those names, it is nevertheless commonly regarded as sharing ancestry with the Renaissance game of Primero and French Brelan. The latter appeared in literature as early as 1526 and described a game, where each player held three cards, the counting combinations being three of a kind, a pair, and a Flux (Flush: Three cards of the same suit). Later variants brought certain cards holding special value, similar to wild cards in today’s Poker.

 

Around 1700, betting and bluffing aspects had produced the English game Brag, which clearly descended from Brelan and included bluffing (although the concept was elemntary in other games during that time). It is however realistic to assume that all of these earlier games influenced the development of Poker as it exists today. It was the French version of Poque which was first played in French America in 1803, when the Louisiana Purchase made New Orleans and its environs territories of the United States. During the next two decades, English-speaking settlers in the Louisiana and Mississippi area adopted the game, spreading it throughout the continent on their endeavour to find a home and settle. The earliest known reference to Poker in American literature was found in the memoirs of touring English actor Joe Cowell around 1829. His narration clear described the original American game to be played with a dealt hand that included five cards for each player and rounds of betting on who had the best five-card combination. The second known reference to Poker dates back to 1834 when the game had been adapted to the modern 52-card deck. There are no references in literature to the rules of games before 1858 but no publication around the 1860s characterized this version as a new game.

 

Any further development of the game purely consists of new features introduced to encourage freer betting. The straight was introduced as an additional valuable hand, cards could be drawn so that players could stay in even without having been dealt good hands, Stud Poker increases the number of opportunities for betting. Also the Pot appeared, where each player antes, creating an unusually large pot at the start. Most of these innovations emerged in the decade 1861–70 and most likely occurred because of the immense amount of Poker being played by soldiers during the Civil War. Obviously, Poker was also a favourite in saloons throughout the American “Wild West” during the 1870s and ’80s. Contrary to Hollywood movies, however, games rarely led to shoot-outs over accusations of cheating.

 

The return of Poker to Europe occurred in 1871, when Colonel Jacob Schenck, the U.S. minister to Great Britain, introduced the game to a group of gentlemen that included members of the British court. Queen Victoria, who had heard about the game and expressed interest, had Schenck writing and privately printing a set of rules for her in 1872. This rule-set was the earliest known writing exclusively devoted to Poker, although the game had previously been treated in compendiums. The notion of Schenck describing it as “our national game.” may be due to the fact that all other card games played in the United States were undeniably of European origin. His actions led to a brief vogue of the game in British court circles in the 1870s, its widespread acceptance in Great Britain and on the Continent, however, happened in the decade between 1911 and 1920, undoubtedly influenced by the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. For nearly 100 years in the United States, Poker was considered a gambling game of men, unsuited to polite or mixed gatherings. After the 1920s, its popularity extended to both sexes and all levels of society. Surveys conducted in the middle of the 20th century showed poker to be the favourite card game of American men and the third most-favoured (after rummy and bridge) of American women, and in Great Britain it ranked next after contract bridge with both sexes.

 

The economic boom during the second half of the 20th century established Poker as high-profile game, especially in the emerging World Series of Poker, that saw such big winners that popularity brought Poker as far as being a main game in Sci-Fi TV-Show Star Trek. In the beginning 21st century, Poker experienced yet another unprecedented peak due to the introduction of online poker and hole-card cameras, which turned the game into a spectator sport. Viewers now could follow the action on television and could also play the game in the comfort of their own homes.

 

The Game
Poker is played from a standard pack of 52 cards, there are variant games that use multiple packs or add a few cards (Jokers). The cards are ranked (high to low) Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. – the Ace can thus be high or low, it is usually high. There are four suits: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds and Clubs) and no suit is higher than another. All poker hands contain five cards, obviously the highest hand wins. Deal and play are clockwise. Some games have so-called wild cards which can take on whatever suit and rank their possessor desires. Sometimes jokers are used as wild cards, in other variations the game specifies which cards are wild (i.e. Deuces, One-Eyed Jacks, etc.).

 

Poker has been played throughout the times as a game for 2 to 7 players, more players guarantees interesting showdowns, 6 or 7 players are considered to be the ideal number. However, there are variants that can be played by more than seven players, then there are versions which work well for a small number of players down to even just two (Heads Up). Poker is traditionally played for money, but it is just as convenient to use chips to represent money during the actual games. They come in various denominations, for instance labelled with numbers 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 or in colours such as white, red, blue, values for the colours must be agreed. Players buy chips before the game and redeem them for money at the end.

 

A game of poker is played as follows:


Players place an initial bet, if required by the game being played, by placing some of their chips into a central common area known as the pot or pool.

 

  • The dealer deals cards to the players.
  • Players look at their own cards, and have the opportunity to increase their bet, placing extra chips into the pot. All other players must then either put in chips to bring their contribution to the pot to at least an equal amount or fold, discarding their cards and abandoning any chips they have so far contributed to the pot.
  • Players who have not folded are known as active players. When all active players have contributed an equal amount to the pot the betting round is completed. According to the variant being played, further cards may be dealt or players may have an opportunity to exchange some cards, after which there is another betting round, and so on.
  • When the last betting round is complete there is a showdown: All active players show their cards and the owner of the best five-card hand takes the contents of the pot. If at any point only one active player remains, that player automatically wins the pot without having to show any cards.

 

The objective is of course to win money, and there are two ways to do this:

1. To have the best five-card hand at the showdown.

2. To force all other players to fold.


It is the second possibility that creates the possibility for bluff. If everyone believes that you probably have a good hand, then when you raise the stake, they may prefer to fold rather than add chips to a pot that they will probably lose. If they all fold you win, even though your hand may in reality be much worse than theirs. One main technique in this is the out-betting of others, meaning that a player continuously raises the bets, thereby forcing others to either place lots of their chips or pushing to the edge of their spending abilities - and eventually make them fold.

 

The ranking of Poker Hands


Straight Flush - Five consecutive cards of the same suit. The Ace can be counted as high to make the highest type of Straight Flush, which is A-K-Q-J-10 of a suit, also known as a Royal Flush. The Ace can also be low to make lower straight (5-4-3-2-A). The Ace, however, cannot count high and low within one hand (i.e. 2-A-K-Q-J would not be valid hand). 

Four of a Kind - Four cards of the same rank and one other card, such as 9-9-9-9-K. Four of a kind is also known as quads or in some non-English speaking countries as a Poker. The odd card (in this example the King) is called the Kicker.

Full House - Three cards of the same rank plus a pair of cards of another rank, such as 8-8-8-Q-Q, which would be described as Eights full of Queens. A full house is also known as a Boat.

Flush - A flush consists of five cards of the same suit, they do not need to be consecutive since this would be a straight flush.

Straight - Five cards of consecutive ranks, not all of the same suit. The highest is A-K-Q-J-10. Again, the Ace can also be counted as low to make the lowest straight (5-4-3-2-A), also called a Wheel. Also, an Ace cannot be within a straight: This means that a hand of 4-3-2-A-K is not a straight.

Three of a Kind - Three cards of the same rank and two cards of different ranks - for example 5-5-5-9-7. This is also known as a Triplet, Trips, or (using this example) Trip 5.

Two Pair - Two cards of one rank, two cards of a second rank and one card of a third rank (Kicker) - for example K-K-4-4-8.

Pair - Two cards of equal rank and three cards of different ranks - for example A-A-Q-8-5.

Nothing - A hand which does not fit any of the ranked hands above. This is known as High Card or in some regions as No Pair: Five cards of different ranks, not all consecutive and not all the same suit.

 

Poker Variations in brief

Texas Hold’em
In Texas Hold'em the pot is normally started with blinds - forced bets of a given size placed by the players to the left of the dealer seat. Typically the player to the immediate left of the dealer seat must place a small blind and the next player to the left must place a big blind of twice this amount. Each player is then dealt two cards face down and there is a betting round begun by the player to the left of the big blind. The blind bets are treated like ordinary bets, in that players must match the big blind in order to call and can raise by putting in a greater amount. When it comes to the big blind player's first turn, this player is allowed to raise even if the active players' bets are currently equal, the others having done no more than call.

 

After the first betting round the dealer deals three cards face up to the table after which there is a second betting round. These three face-up cards are known as the Flop. The dealer now deals a fourth face-up card (called the Turn) followed by a third betting round. The fifth and final face-up card, called the River, opens the final betting round. All betting rounds other than the first are begun by the first active player to the left of the dealer. Having concluded all betting rounds it is time for5 the Showdown: Each player has seven cards available from which he can combine the best five-card poker hand: Two hole cards (his own hand) plus the five face-up cards which are available to everyone. Sharing the face-up cards means there is a much higher possibility of players having the same ranked hand, thus a play can often result in ties, the co-called Split-Pots. For example: Two players remain in the showdown (the others folded), the cards on the table are 4-4-4-K-7, one player holds A-K and the other holds K-5. Since only five cards can be used, in this showdown the players both hold full houses (4-4-4-K-K) so they share the pot equally.

 

Omaha
Omaha is another very popular shared card Poker-game. After placing the blinds, each player is dealt four hole cards. The betting and the remainder of the deal is similar to Texas Hold'em (Betting round, three-card Flop dealt face-up, 2nd betting round, single Turn card dealt face-up, 3rd betting round, single River card dealt face-up, final betting round). In the showdown, each player must use exactly two hole cards plus exactly three of the five cards on the table to make the best five-card poker hand.

 

A quite popular version is Omaha Hi-Lo/8. This is played like Omaha with the exception that the pot is shared equally between the highest and lowest hands at the showdown. This means that playing strategies become much more complex, since players can use different cards for high or low hands, even change their hand-strategy during the game. Still, they always have to use two cards from their hand and three from face-up cards on the table. When comparing low hands, Aces are low, straights and flushes do not count. To qualifiy for a low hand and win the low part of the pot, none of the five cards a player selects can be higher than 8. If there is no qualifying low hand the high hand wins the whole pot.

 

Stud Poker
In stud poker games, cards are being dealt face-up and face-down in changing patterns, making the betting and the showdown more interesting.

In Five Card Stud, the dealer starts with dealing one hole card (face-down) to each player, then one card face-up. Players may look at their own hole cards. The first betting round begins with the player holding the highest face-up card. Five Card Stud is sometimes played without an ante, in which case the player with the highest card showing must open with a minimum bet. Once the betting round is complete, the dealer deals another face up card to each player and another betting round unfold, starting with the player currently holding the best hand showing. This play is repeated until each player holds five cards, one face-down and four-face up. After the final betting round there is a showdown between the survivors.

Seven Card Stud these days is more popular than Five Card Stud. Each player is dealt two face-down hole cards and one card face-up. The first betting round is also started by the player with the highest card showing, nowadays Poker-rounds also start with the player showing the lowest card having to open with a compulsory bet (known as the Bring-In). After the first betting round, one face-up card (the Fourth Street) is dealt to each player. The second betting round always starts with the highest hand showing. This procedure is repeated for the next two face-up cards (the Fifth and Sixth Street). The final card or Seventh Street is again dealt face-down. Each player now holds four cards showing and three concealed hole cards, the first, second and last card that was dealt. After a final round of betting the showdown has the players reveal all their cards. The winner is the player whose hand includes five cards that make the best poker hand.

 

Online Video Poker
Apart from live-Poker-rounds where real users play on virtual tables against each other, the single-player variation of Poker in online gaming is Video Poker.

In Video Poker only the ranking of the hands are the same as in table poker. Since the game is played on a machine, your only objective is to get the best-paying hand. The machine deals a five card hand. You may keep or throw away as many cards as you like by activating the appropriate button underneath every card. After selecting the card(s) you want to hold or discard, press on "deal/draw." The cards you didn’t want to hold are replaced with new cards. If the new hand contains a winning combination, you win money. The winning pay-out is the main difference to classic Poker. Since there is no pot growing by other players betting, you get paid according to the ranking of the hand you assemble.

 

Jacks or Better
Classic Poker game, where you as a single player try to assemble the best hand (ranking as in classic Poker).
The winning hands and pay-outs for Jacks or Better, from highest to lowest are:

Royal Flush - A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit.
Straight Flush – Five consecutive cards in the same suit, for instance 8, 9, 10, J and Q.
Four of a Kind – A hand with four cards of the same value, such as four Nines.
Full House - Three cards of one value, and two cards of another value, like three Fives and two Kings.
Flush – Any five cards of the same suit, in no particular order.
Straight – Any five consecutive cards, such as J, 10, 9, 8 and 7, but not in the same suit.
Three of a Kind - Three cards of the same value, three Sevens for instance.
Two Pair – A hand containing two pairs, such as two Tens and two Aces.
Pair of Jacks or Better – A pair of Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces makes up the lowest paying hand, (hence the name).

 

Deuces Wild
The variation in this game is that the four 2s (Deuces) in the deck can be substituted for any other card, any rank, any suit. This means for example that a deuce of spades can be used as the fifth card to complete a straight flush in hearts. You never discard a deuce. The winning hands for Deuces Wild from highest to lowest are:

Royal Flush without deuce(s) - A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit.
Four Deuces – Four wild cards in one hand.
Wild Royal Flush – A royal flush made up with one or more deuces.
Five of a Kind – Any five cards of the same value (includes one or more deuces).

The following hands pay the same, whether they contain deuces or not:
Straight Flush – Five consecutive cards in the same suit, for instance 8, 9, 10, J and Q.
Four of a Kind – A hand with four cards of the same value.
Full House - Three cards of one value, and two cards of another value.
Flush – Any five cards of the same suit, in no particular order.
Straight – Any five consecutive cards, such as J, 10, 9, 8 and 7, but not in the same suit.
Three of a Kind – Any three cards of the same value. In Deuces Wild this is the lowest-paying hand.

Because you have four wild cards to help make up winning combinations, the lowest pay-out is for Three of a Kind.

 

Jokers Wild
Jokers Wild is played with a 53-card deck, the regular 52-card deck plus a joker. The joker acts as a wild card and, as in all other wild card games, can be used as any card you want. The winning hands for Jokers Wild from highest to lowest are:

Royal Flush without the joker - A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit.
Five of a Kind – Four same-value cards plus the joker.

 

The following hands may be made with or without the joker: 
Joker Royal Flush – A royal flush where one of the five cards is the joker.
Straight Flush – Five consecutive cards in the same suit, for instance 8, 9, 10, J and Q.
Four of a Kind – A hand with four cards of the same value.
Full House - Three cards of one value, and two cards of another value.
Flush – Any five cards of the same suit, in no particular order.
Straight – Any five consecutive cards, such as J, 10, 9, 8 and 7, but not in the same suit.
Three of a Kind – Any three cards of the same value.
Two Pair / Pair of Kings or Aces – These are the lowest paying hands in Jokers Wild.

 

There are two versions of Jokers Wild games. One version returns your bet on a two-pair hand, the other variation gives back your money if you line up a pair of Kings or Aces.