Poker for Newbies

Walk through any Barangay and you are going to see a few things for sure: dogs, beer, families, and guys playing poker. Who knows, you might even see the next great Filipino poker stars learning how to play the game at the feet of the poker senseis. For that matter, it’s possible that you are the next great poker star…even if you don’t know how to play the game.

Let’s fix that oversight right now by introducing poker for the complete newbie. I’m going to assume that you don’t know anything about poker or cards and give you the absolute basics. For those of you who are already betting on the river, no need to read further. This is for the poker stars to be.

First of all the deck. A poker deck has fifty two cards. The cards are divided into four suits (groups) called clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades. I’m going to assume you know what the pictures look like. Each suit has thirteen cards starting with two and going up to ten and then the jack, queen, king, and the highest card in each suit, the ace, that’s the one with the A on it.

Poker hands are generally judged by five cards. There are games where you get more cards, but in determining the winner, it is almost always just five cards that are judged even if there are more cards to choose from. Obviously the high card wins. Next come pairs. Highest pair. Two pair is better than one pair. After pairs come three of a kind. Simple enough so far. Next comes the straight which is five cards in a row of any suit. After the high straight (Ten, Jack, Queen, King, Ace) comes the flush which is five cards all of the same suit. Better than a flush?

A full house. That’s three of one kind and two of another (10,10, 10, 9, 9). The next higher is four of a kind. Four aces, however, does not rule the poker house. Above four of a kind is the straight flush – all the same suit, in sequence. And the top hand in poker? The royal flush. That’s a straight flush with the top five cards (Ten, Jack, Queen, King, Ace). If you have a royal flush, my advice is to go all in because you cannot lose.