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An Intro to Poker

Poker

Poker is a card game, the most popular of a class of games called vying games, in which players with fully or partially concealed cards make wagers into a central pot, after which the pot is awarded to the remaining player or players with the best combination of cards.
In order to play, one must learn the basic rules and procedures of the game, the values of the various combinations of cards (see hand), and the rules about betting limits (see betting). There are also many variants of poker, loosely categorized as draw poker, stud poker, community card poker (a.k.a. “widow game”), and miscellaneous poker games. The most commonly played games of the first three categories are five-card draw, seven-card stud, and Texas hold ’em, respectively; each being a common starting point for learning games of the type. Dealer’s choice is a way to play poker where the dealer chooses what type of poker to play.

Game play

The game of poker is played in hundreds of variations, but the following overview of game play applies to most of them.
Depending on the game rules, one or more players may be required to place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt. These are called forced bets and come in three forms: antes, blinds, and bring-ins.
Like most card games, the dealer shuffles the deck of cards. The deck is then cut, and the appropriate number of cards are dealt face-down to the players. In a home game, the right to deal the cards typically rotates among the players clockwise, whose position is often marked by a button (any small item used as a marker, also called a buck). In a casino a “house” dealer handles the cards for each hand, but a button is still rotated among the players to determine the order of dealing and betting in some games.
After the initial deal, the first of what may be several betting rounds begins. Between rounds, the players’ hands develop in some way, often by being dealt additional cards or replacing cards previously dealt. During a round of betting, there will always be a current bet amount, which is the total amount of money bet in this round by the player who bet last in this round. To keep better track of this, it is conventional for players to not place their bets directly into the pot (called splashing the pot), but rather place them in front of themselves toward the pot, until the betting round is over. When the round is over, the bets are then gathered into the pot.
After the first betting round is complete because every player called an equal amount, there may be more rounds in which more cards are dealt in various ways, followed by further rounds of betting (into the same central pot). At any time during the first or subsequent betting rounds, if one player makes a bet and all other players fold, the deal ends immediately, the single remaining player is awarded the pot, no cards are shown, no more rounds are dealt, and the next deal begins. This is what makes it possible to bluff.
At the end of the last betting round, if more than one player remains, there is a showdown in which the players reveal their previously hidden cards and evaluate their hands. The player with the best hand according to the poker variant being played wins the pot. Some deals may not reach the showdown phase if all players drop out except one.

Computer players

The game of poker (or at least most of the variants) is considered to be computationally intractable. However, methods are being developed to at least approximate perfect strategy from the game theory perspective in the heads-up (two player) game, and increasingly good systems are being created for the multi-player or ring game. Perfect strategy has multiple meanings in this context. From a game-theoretic optimal point of view, a perfect strategy is a minimax one that cannot expect to lose to any other player’s strategy; however, optimal strategy can vary in the presence of sub-optimal players who have weaknesses that can be exploited. In this case, a perfect strategy would be one that correctly or closely models those weaknesses and takes advantage of them to make a profit. Some of these systems are based on Bayes theorem, Nash equilibrium, Monte Carlo simulation, and Neural networks. A large amount of the research is being done at the University of Alberta by the GAMES group led by Jonathan Schaeffer who developed Poki and PsOpt.

Source: Wikipedia