Ultimate Poker Guide
Learn everything there is to know about poker. Poker is one of the most popular casino games in the world, and many people have played some form of this card game. Maybe you’ve played Texas hold ’em, five-card stud, or maybe you’ve tried video poker at an online casino — whatever the case, you can get an in-depth overview of poker by reading this guide.
Keep reading to learn more about poker.
A Brief History
The earliest documented version of poker was a game played in 16th-century Germany, referred to as “pochen.” The bluffing game made its way to France, and was dubbed “poque.” Finally, the game spread to the riverboats of New Orleans. By the 1830s, the game was growing popular and had taken the name “poker.” The practice of drawing cards to improve your hand came about during the Civil War, and from that emerged the first documented variation of poker, which became known as “stud poker.”
Basic Poker Terminology
- Action: The choice players make during their turn to progress the game (i.e., betting or raising).
- Ante: A mandatory contribution to the pot before gameplay begins.
- All-In: When a player elects to place all of their chips into the pot.
- Backdoor: Getting the cards you need to make a desired hand from the community cards placed on the table.
- Bad Beat: When the player statistically in the lead at the beginning of the game loses their advantage after the community cards have been utilized.
- Banker: The player who keeps track of the chips.
- Big Blind: When the second player to the left side of the dealer bets without having seen the cards first.
- Blind: When you are in the position immediately to the left of the dealer, or second to the left of the dealer, and have to make a bet without having seen the cards first.
- Board: Community cards available to all players.
- Bubble: The person next in line who does not get paid after all of the top players get paid. For example, if 10 people get paid, the bubble is the 11th-place player.
- Burn: The practice of players discarding the top card before each round of betting to prevent any intentional or unintentional unfairness.
- Button: The dealer’s position, often marked with a “button” or small disc placed on the table in front of them. This position rotates clockwise after each shuffle/new hand.
- Buy-In: The minimum amount of money needed to play in a tournament.
- Call: The contribution of the minimum amount required to the pot to continue gameplay.
- Check: The option of passing on betting, equivalent to betting nothing.
- Check-Raise: When a player checks on their turn and then raises another bet in the same round.
- Chips: The stand-in representation of currency in a poker game. Typically, there are at least 200 chips for games with at least seven players. The lightest chips are usually the lowest in value while the darkest are the highest. The other chip colors represent various increments in between the high and low.
- Cold Call: The action of calling two or more bets during your turn if the pot has been raised before it is your turn.
- Connectors: Numerical sequential cards, no matter the suit.
- Community Cards: Cards that are dealt face up and are available to all players to utilize in completing their hand.
- Counterfeit: When there is a duplicate card on the board that makes your hand less valuable.
- Cut-off: The player to the right of the button.
- Dealer: The player who deals the cards after shuffling the deck.
- Discard: The cards that are thrown away after a round of betting.
- Draw Out: A situation in which a player receives a card that changes their hand to the winning hand.
- Drawing Dead: The action of drawing when there is no ability to create a winning hand with any card in the deck.
- Flop: The three community cards provided by the dealer after the initial round of betting.
- Fold: To give up; also called “drop.” Typically, you place your cards face down on the table to fold.
- Four of a Kind: Four cards all of the same numerical value or rank.
- Hand: The cards making up the set a player will challenge the other players with. Hands are typically five cards.
- Heads-Up: A game against one other person.
- Hold: The action of keeping your cards in your hand.
- Kicker: The single card that pushes a player to win over another player in a showdown.
- Limp: A slang term for calling.
- Muck: All of the discarded cards.
- Nuts: The best possible hand a player can have in the game at any specific moment.
- Off-Suit: Cards of different suits in a player’s hand.
- Orbit: Each passing of the button.
- Out: Any card that will improve a player’s hand.
- Over-Cards: The higher cards when hands are revealed — either beating the opponent or the community cards.
- Pair: Two cards of the same numerical value or rank.
- Pot Odds: The knowledge of your odds based on the money you need to call as compared to the money in the pot.
- Quads: Four cards of the same numerical value or rank.
- Rainbow: A flop hand consisting of cards of all different suits.
- Rake: The amount of money taken out of a poker hand by the house.
- Ring Game: A standard variant of poker in which bets are wagered every round.
- River: The last five community cards.
- Raise: Betting more than the minimum required, which forces other players to also bet more.
- Semi-Bluff: When a player bluffs and there is a chance that their hand will improve even if the bluff doesn’t work.
- Short Stack: When a player has a lesser amount of chips than the rest of the players, their chips are referred to as a short stack.
- Showdown: When players reveal their cards in the last round of betting.
- Slow Play: A strategy allowing the other players to make their hands while you play less aggressively than possible to raise the pot in the meantime.
- Small Blind: When the first player to the left side of the dealer bets without having seen the cards first.
- Split Pot: When at least two players tie and get equal portions of the pot.
- Tell: A physical action, whether intentional or unintentional, that cues in other players to the potential strength or weakness of your hand.
- Tilt: When a player plays recklessly and seemingly without strategy.
- Time: Asking for more time to make a decision during a turn.
- Time Limit: The preconceived agreement of how long a game will last.
- Top Pair: A pair that is made with the best card on the board.
- Trip: A slang term for three cards of the same numerical value or rank.
- Turn: The fourth community card that is dealt face up.
- Under the Gun: Refers to the player sitting to the left of the Big Blind.
While poker is a game that is reliant on luck, it is not a game that is played on luck alone. It actually takes quite a bit of skill and strategy to be “good” at poker. That being said, there are actually hundreds of different forms of poker, each played with a different strategy. However, the main forms people typically refer to when they just say “poker” are draw poker and stud poker.
- Draw Poker: In this form of poker, the players are all dealt a complete hand, face down. For example, in five card draw, each player is dealt a hand and then places an ante in the pot. Then, they can all look at their cards and place their bets. After betting, the players can choose to discard up to three cards from their hand and draw new ones before betting once more. After the second round of betting, the players show their hand and the player with the best hand wins.
- Stud Poker: This form of poker is different from draw poker in that some of the cards are dealt face up. This way, all the other players are able to see a partial view of the other players’ hands and can take those cards into consideration when placing bets. This form evolved from draw poker as the game progressed from a three-card hand to a five-card hand. Typically, the game alternates rounds of cards being dealt face up or face down, and the betting commences after each round of cards is dealt. Today, the most popular variation of this form is Seven-Card Stud, in which each player is dealt three cards face down and four cards face up, resulting in two extra cards. The player can then make the best possible five card hand from their seven cards.
Although these are the most typically played forms of poker, there are several other forms that are notable for their popularity but are vastly different from these two, including:
- Straight Poker: A form of poker in which each player is dealt a complete hand and bet in a single round. Raising and re-raising bets are permitted in this game.
- Community Card Poker / “Flop” Poker: A variation of stud poker in which players are dealt an incomplete hand and the remaining cards are dealt face up in the center of the table as “community cards.” Each of these cards can be used by any of the players to complete their hand. This variation of gameplay utilizing community cards also includes the well-known “Texas Hold ‘em” and “Omaha.”
- Strip Poker: A well-known variation of traditional poker in which players remove an article of clothing each time they lose a bet. This game can be played with any form of poker but is most commonly based on simpler forms with fewer rounds of betting.
- Acey-Deucey / Red Dog Poker: This game is actually much more similar to blackjack than poker, and it observes a gameplay in which players bet against the house before being dealt two cards. They then have the opportunity to raise the bet before being dealt a third card. This card needs to have a value in between the other two cards already in hand.
- Poverty Poker: A game in which there is a limit set on the max amount of chips a player can lose, and if their stack is lost, they can get another without charge.
- Online Poker: A game of poker played over the internet, making the game much more accessible worldwide.
- Video Poker: A version of gameplay similar to a slot machine in which a single player challenges a machine and payout is dependent on the hand dealt and the initial bet made.
Online poker allows players to escape the intimidation of brick-and-mortar casinos, especially for beginners. In addition, it removes the need for casinos to have poker rooms, which tend to be more of a financial burden than a revenue booster.
In the late 1990s, free online poker games became popular with the rise in online gameplay, in general. This spurred the first online game to offer real money in 1998, and the form continued to grow. Recently, there has been a surge in online poker due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Differences Between Online Poker and Conventional Poker
The most obvious difference between online poker and conventional poker in a brick-and-mortar venue is that players do not have the ability to see each others’ expressions or body language due to the physical distance an online setting creates. This means that instead of being able to rely on physical tells, players must then rely on other players’:
- Patterns of betting
- Reaction times
- Utilization of “auto” features
- Fold percentages
- Chat box tells
- Beginner mistakes
In addition to the difference in the ability to see one’s opponent, other major differences between online poker and in-person poker include:
- Rate of Play: Because in the traditional setting the dealer has to account for the time it takes to collect, shuffle, and deal cards after every round, online poker goes at a much quicker rate of play than traditional poker.
- Buy-In: Typically, the price to play online poker is much less than it is to play poker in a traditional setting.
- Increased Earnings: In online poker, players can play more tables to earn more.
- Reduced Learning Curve: Online poker rooms often provide basic poker training for novice players as well as free play to practice.
- Limits: Online poker table limits are often much lower than in traditional poker.
- In-the-Dark Action: Unlike brick-and-mortar venue poker, online poker doesn’t typically allow in-the-dark action (action taken before the cards are seen).
- Currency Discrepancies: Online poker creates a much easier method of payment for foreign currency, as typically at a physical venue the currency is in the host country’s legal tender and players cannot exchange international currencies in house.
Video poker is similar to online poker in that the player is not physically present at the site of the dealer — but the dealer in this instance is a machine.
Video poker came to fruition with the rise of the first personal computers in the 1970s and continued to gain traction throughout the 1980s. Video poker consoles are popular in places such as:
- Cruise ships
- Shopping centers
Here’s a simple breakdown of how gameplay works for video poker: You typically insert a ticket or voucher to play, place your bet, and then press the “deal” button. You may then be able to discard any undesirable cards — or even your full hand, in some cases — in exchange for new cards, or simply keep the hand dealt to you. Then, based on your hand, you’ll get the allocated payout based on the game’s payout chart.
The paytable in video poker typically mirrors that of a traditional poker game, but it often includes differences between specific consoles that are calculated by:
- Game variation
- The rarity of specific hands
- Unique combination bonuses
- Progressive play bonuses
- Any special rules or circumstances
While there may be concern about the regulation of video poker, these machines are required to deal with total randomization and go through rigorous testing and maintenance processes before being offered for public use.
Online Video Poker
While video poker is usually played on a console, it is possible to connect to a physical console and play virtually. While these games are not super common, New Jersey is one of the few states that offers online video poker. These options require player to be:
- Of legal gambling age
- Physically present in the state to which the game is registered
Full-Pay vs. Short-Pay Video Poker Games
Historically, “full-pay” games have the highest return-to-player (RTP) percentage in regard to payout, and “low-pay” games, sometimes referred to as “short-pay” games, have the lowest RTP percentage. Typically, full-pay and low-pay can be defined as:
- Full-Pay: Over 99% payback
- Low-Pay: Under 99% payback
Choosing a Form for In-Person Poker
While it is important to take into consideration the skill level and knowledge of the game of each player before choosing a form of poker to play, the most common factor influencing the form chosen is the number of players. Here is a common recommendation for form based on player count:
- 2-4 players: Since this is a smaller than average number of players, stud poker is the best bet. However, if the players are very experienced, they may opt to play draw poker, but will typically use a stripped deck.
- 5-8 players: This is an ideal number of players for stud poker, draw poker, or any other form of poker.
- 9-10 players: Five-Card Stud is ideal for a larger group.
- Over 10 players: While it may be easier with more than 10 players to split into two separate games, players may also opt to play one large game variant in which each player is dealt fewer than five cards.
There are a few variations of poker that depend on whether the best hand is a high hand or a low hand.
- High Poker: The most common variation in which the highest hand is considered ideal.
- Low Poker: A less common and often more complicated variant in which the lowest hand is considered ideal.
- High-Low Split: A variation in which winnings are divided amongst the best high hand and the best low hand in the game.
- Dealer’s Choice: When the dealer gets to choose the form and variation played, along with any specific stipulations or special circumstances.
- Wild Cards: Typically, poker is played without wild cards, but in some variants or if playing Dealer’s Choice, “wild card” is the term designated for a card that can be used as any card a player needs. For example:
- The Joker: One or both of the Jokers can be thrown into the mix as wild cards, which can be used as any card needed.
- The Bug: This is a Joker card endowed with a limited “wildness.” For example, it could be considered only an Ace.
- Deuces: A form of draw poker in which every 2 is a wild card.
- One-Eyed Cards: A form in which the cards with one eye showing (King of Diamonds, Jacks of Spades or Hearts) are designated as wild cards.
- Low Hole Card: A form in stud poker in which the lowest face-down card dealt is wild. Low Hole Card can also be played in draw poker, but the wild card is the lowest card in a player’s hand.
In nearly all forms of poker, the standard deck of 52 cards is used, with or without one or both of the Jokers.
- One Deck Poker: Poker is most commonly a one-deck game.
- Two Deck Poker: Despite the game historically using only one deck of cards, many clubs and casinos operate using two decks that contrast in color in order to speed up gameplay.
- Call for New Cards: Typically, any player may call for a new deck of cards whenever they wish. In this case, the cards will be shown as sealed and have the seal broken in full view of the players. In two deck poker, both packs are replaced in this fashion.
Values of Hands
Despite the many forms of poker, by having an understanding of the values of hands, you will be able to adapt to any type of poker without a hitch. Let’s take a look at the possible hands:
- Five of a Kind: The highest possible combination of cards. This is only possible in a game that utilizes wild cards.
- Straight Flush: Five cards in sequence, all of the same suit. When a standard deck is used with no wild cards, this is the highest hand possible.
- Royal Flush: The highest possible straight flush, consisting of an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10, all of the same suit.
- Natural Royal Flush: The rare event that the player is dealt a complete royal flush.
- Four of a Kind: Ranking just below a straight flush, it consists of four cards of the same kind. An example would be a set of four 5s.
- Full House: A hand made up of three cards of one kind, and two of another. For example, three 7s and two Aces.
- Flush: This is five cards from the same suit, no matter the sequence. For example, a 4, 5, 7, 10, and Queen, but all of them are the suit of spades.
- Straight: This hand is five cards in sequence, regardless of their suit.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank, regardless of the rank of the other two cards. For example, three Queens, a 4, and a 6.
- Two Pairs: A hand containing two pairs of differently ranked cards, regardless of the final card. For example, two Aces, two 10s, and a 4.
- One Pair: A hand containing one pair of the same kind, regardless of the other three cards. For example, two 10s, a Queen, a 7, and a 3.
- No Pair: A very common hand that does not contain any pairs, trios, or ranking cards. The value of this set of cards is determined by the highest card in the hand.
Special Circumstances in Ranking
- Two hands that are exactly identical: The players with the exact same hands will split the pot 50/50.
- Two hands containing the same pair: If two players have hands containing the same pair, the winner is the one with the next highest ranking card.
- Two hands containing two identical pairs each: If two players have hands each with two of the same pair, the winner is determined by the fifth card.
Principles of Betting
Poker is typically played in rounds, or betting intervals. According to the specific form’s rules, one player is assigned as the first person to place a bet, and the betting always moves to the left. No player may bet or take any other action allowed in gameplay outside of their designated turn. Here is a typical breakdown of a round:
- A player bets one or more chips.
- The player to the left either “calls” the bet by betting the same number of chips as the previous player, “raises” the bet by betting more chips than the previous person, or “folds” by declining to make a bet, discarding their hand and staying out of betting until the next hand.
- After every player has either called the bet or folded, the interval is “equalized” and ends.
- Typically there are two more rounds of betting intervals.
- After the last interval ends, each player who is still in the game shows their hand, which is known as the “showdown.”
- The winner takes the pot.
The Power of the Bluff
There is another circumstance in which the winner does not have to show their hand. If that player makes a bet or raises the bet and no other player matches that bet, they automatically win the pot. That’s the power of a good bluff.
There are many betting structures used depending on the specific style of poker being played. Some of the most common structures used are:
- “Fixed-Limit” Betting: Where betting and raising bets are only allowed in a specifically regulated amount.
- “Pot-Limit” Betting: Where players may bet or raise freely, but only up to the size of the pot.
- “No-Limit” Betting: A less common betting style in which there are no limits or regulations on how much a player can wager at any given time. Players may elect to wager their entire stack.
Specific Rule Variations of Betting
Depending on the style and the rules decided by the dealer, here are some of the most common poker rules and variations in regard to betting:
- A player may elect to go “all-in” if they do not have enough chips to match a bet.
- A player can “check” to stay in the game without placing a bet, as long as no player before them has made a bet. This effectively allows a player to bet zero chips. If a player before them has made a bet, they will have the option to call the bet, and if they cannot, they must fold.
- Any player who decides to check may have their bet “raised” by another player, a practice often referred to as “sandbagging.” However, this is often forbidden at the beginning of a game.
- If every player checks in the same round, that round is over and all of the players who still have chips in the pot are still in the game.
Mathematical Semantics of Betting
Betting is really just making an educated guess based on the mathematical principle of probability. Here are some mathematical semantics to keep in mind when you are betting:
- The highest ranking hands have the lowest probability of occurring.
- Players should refrain from betting unless they have a hand that they think has a good chance of being the best. The exception to this rule is if the player is planning on bluffing.
- Intelligent betting comes from the knowledge of probability, game semantics, and value of all combinations that make up a hand.
- To help you learn, you can find charts online that show all of the hands possible and the number of combinations possible in a single deck of cards.
- The Kitty: A fund created by building up a low value chip from any pot that has been raised more than once. This fund belongs to all the players equally and is typically used for external expenses, such as drinks or new decks. All players must unanimously agree to create the kitty prior to gameplay.
- Betting Limit: An unalterable threshold of the max amount that players can bet so that players who start with more money do not have an unfair advantage.
- Table Stakes: The principle in which no player is allowed to withdraw chips until they leave the game.
- Whangdoodles / Roodles: An agreement during a fixed-limit game in which everyone’s antes double and the betting limit doubles after a very good hand is played.
- Limits on Raises: A cap on the number of raises allowed during a betting interval. Typically, this limit is three raises.
- Calling a Bet: The action of matching a bet or a raise. If no other opponent calls or raises, the player who calls the bet wins the pot.
- Raising a Bet: To bet higher than the current bet. Unlike calling, this action also allows for opponents to fold.
Poker is a combination of luck, intimate knowledge of gameplay, and strategic planning. A consistency among every version of the numerous styles and variations of poker is the ultimate goal — procuring the rarest hand possible for the highest achievable payout.
Because a poker hand is based on the probability of a combination of five specific cards either in the player’s hand or in the community pile, betting well is really a system of implementing an educated guess based on mathematical probability and inductive reasoning.
Because the game is complex and a good hand relies on a variety of factors, poker strategy can become very complicated. Here is a breakdown of some of the most prevalent information regarding poker strategy, probability, and mindset.
The Fundamental Theorem of Poker by David Sklansky
The Fundamental Theorem of poker is a formulation that is based on mathematical reasoning. This theorem states:
“Every time you play your hand the way you would if you could see your opponents’ cards, you gain; and every time your opponents play their cards differently from the way they would play them if they could see your cards, you gain.”
In other words:
- Every decision made is based on the expected payout value.
- The best decision is the one that has the rarest probability, therefore the largest expected payout.
- If players could see all players’ cards, they could calculate the right decision with 100% certainty.
- The more they align to the “best” decision in the game, the better their long-term payout.
Odds and Probability
Some essential knowledge for building poker expertise involves odds and probability:
- Pot odds: The ratio of pot size to minimum bet size. To reach a positive payout, the odds of winning must be better than pot odds.
- Implied odds: An estimation of possible payout if the player hits one of their outs. This is based on the expected size of the pot, not the current money in the pot.
- Poker probabilities: Probabilities are based on the proportion of each type of hand to all types of hands possible.
Deception is the art of making your opponent think your hand is higher or lower than in reality with the hope of persuading them to play differently than they would if they could see your cards. Some common types of deception include:
- Bluff: When a player bets strongly on a weak hand to entice other players to fold.
- Semi-bluff: When a player with a weak hand but the potential to improve it later in the game bets strongly to entice the other players to fold.
- Slow-play: Basically the opposite of a bluff; betting weakly while holding a strong hand hoping to promote higher raises and increase final payout.
Position refers to the location of players around the poker table with respect to the dealer and how this affects the strategy of each player. Typically, as a person advances in their knowledge of the strategy in each position, they will be able to tailor their method of gameplay to the specific position in which they are playing. Most commonly, the poker table structure positions are defined as:
- Button: The dealer position.
- Blinds: Two players immediately to the left of the dealer — the Big Blind and the Small Blind — who have to place “blind” bets.
- Early position: The first players after the dealer — or after the blinds if there are any — who are required to act first. These players need to have strong initial hands or strong calls to succeed.
- Middle position: The players in the next two or three seats after the early players.
- Late position: The last few players after the middle; they have the advantage of seeing how their opponents act initially, which often can give away their tells.
The Gap Concept
The gap concept is a bit like the Schrodinger’s cat of poker. Basically, the player needs a better hand to play after the first positions have either bet or raised than they would need if they had opened the betting. This is because opening elicits a certain level of challenge that may cause other players to fold.
The Sandwich Effect
The ideology that a player must have a stronger hand to stay in the game when their opponents have not yet played. This is because this player does not have anything to judge by in terms of the pot odds, and a strong hand makes up for this lack of certainty.
Loose Play vs. Tight Play
One type of strategy is deciding to play a loose game or a tight game. For reference:
- Loose Play: A strategy of gameplay in which players play more hands and continue forward with weak hands. In loose games:
- Bluffs and semi-bluffs tend not to be as effective due to loose players being less likely to fold.
- Loose players have a heightened probability for playing less valuable hands, so the parameters set for continuing play with made hands is typically lower.
- Drawing to an incomplete hand, such as a flush, is typically more valuable.
- Tight Play: A strategy of gameplay in which players play fewer hands and tend to not move forwards with weak hands. In tight games:
- Bluffs and semi-bluffs are more effective because tight opponents are more likely to fold.
- Requirements for continuing with made hands may be higher because tight players may also be playing higher value hands.
- Drawing to incomplete hands tends to be less valuable.
Aggressive Play vs. Passive Play
Another type of strategy is the intentional choice between playing aggressively or passively:
- Aggressive Play: Embracing the practice of betting and raising during gameplay as a main strategy. Typically, this is considered the “stronger” type of gameplay by providing more space for the other players to miscalculate.
- Passive Play: Embracing the practice of checking and calling during gameplay as a main strategy. Can be stronger than aggressive play if it is being used for deception.
Player’s equity is the share of the pot that a player can expect to receive from gameplay. Player’s equity:
- Can be expressed as a percentage or a sum of money.
- Can be negative when a player is expected to win less than an equal share of the pot when divided evenly among the players who have added to the pot.
When there is a smaller number of players, the likelihood decreases of an opposing player having a very strong hand. This is because the probability is lower of pulling a rare card or being dealt a rare card combination. Because of this, each player is forced to bet more so the winning hands are more valuable. This is known as the “rake break.”
A rake break situation can occur:
- Most often in tournaments or tournament-style games.
- Less drastically in cash games.
- When the house agrees to take a smaller percentage than typically expected in a poker game.
- In online poker and in video poker, and is enacted automatically based on the number of players.
Concentration and Mindset
What makes a poker player “good” at a game based on luck and strategy? Concentration and mindset. Over the past 10 years, psychologists have studied the art of poker and how the brain works differently in regard to differing levels of poker players during gameplay. James Hazlett interpreted the results of testing how brain activity changes between amateur, mid-level, and experienced poker players:
- Experienced Players: Players who were used to the game showed not only an increased level of focus and concentration but also a more logical approach to the game. By maintaining a calm composure and focusing on intuition and prepared strategy, these players often did not show much emotion.
- Amateur Players: Amateur players demonstrated less logic-based decision-making and more emotion-based decision-making. In addition, it became clear from the study that beginner players not only used their emotions to make decisions but were more susceptible to allowing their emotions to affect their psyche and allow for negative reactions such as frustration or fear.
- Mid-Level Players: Mid-level players scored in between the experienced and amateur players in terms of logic vs. emotion to make plays.
What does this mean? Potentially, poker players may be able to up their strategy and performance by working on their mental health and development of logical reasoning. By learning to control emotions, players can avoid impulse decisions that may cost them the game and will be much more likely to make level-headed moves during gameplay.
Poker Winner Vocabulary:
- Low- to Mid-Stakes Poker: Typically refers to low buy-in and low-payout poker. These games are very difficult to consistently win when playing long-term.
- It is estimated that less than 5% of players who play low- to mid-stakes poker play in the long-term or are making consistent earnings; these players are typically hobbyists.
- Mid- to Semi-High Stakes Poker: Mid-level buy-in with a medium to high payout. Long-term players are much more common at this level, as it is a stepping stone between low-stakes and high-stakes poker. It is expected that players will face professional poker players at this level, and these games tend to have a reasonably consistent feed from well-off contributors.
- It is estimated that around 10%-20% of players in mid- to semi-high stakes poker are regular winners or long-term players.
- High-Stakes Poker: This is the type of poker with the highest buy-in and the highest payout. This is where the highest paying contributors put their money, and it involves only the players who are consistently “the best.” This level consists primarily of professional poker players. An example of high-stakes poker is the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
The World Series of Poker (WSOP)
The World Series of Poker was established in 1970 in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is the world’s largest professional poker event. It is also the oldest professional poker competition and is considered extremely prestigious in the poker community. Players buy in with $10,000, and the winners of this championship receive:
- A highly-coveted WSOP bracelet
- Millions of dollars in winnings (based on the number of entrants)
- The title of “World Champion of Poker” for an entire year
The Global Poker Index
How are poker players ranked? The Global Poker Index (GPI) is a system of scoring that ranks live tournament poker players all over the world. Over 450,000 players are ranked by the GPI, and the rankings are consistently recorded and updated. This index is measured by each player’s number of winning positions over six intervals consisting of six months each over the course of three years.
The Poker Hall of Fame
The WSOP Poker Hall of Fame was founded in 1979 as an awards hall dedicated to promoting the best poker players to play in the WSOP. Thus far, the hall of fame has honored 42 players. However, these players are not necessarily the WSOP winner each year. The criteria to be a WSOP honoree are as follows for poker players:
- Must be a minimum of 40 years old at time of nomination.
- Must have played against acknowledged top players in a competition setting.
- Must have played high-stakes poker.
- Must have played consistently well.
- Must be well-respected by other players.
Historically, there have also been various non-players who have been inducted into the hall of fame. These individuals have made groundbreaking contributions to the growth and advancement of poker overall, with “indelible positive and lasting results.”