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Different ways to play poker


In most forms of traditional poker the aim is simple: to make the best winning hand using a total of five cards.

The possible winning hands (from the strongest to the weakest) are: Royal Flush, straight flush, four of kind, full house, flush, straight, set/trips/ two pair and one pair. (A set is when you hold a pair in the hole and a third card of the same rank falls, trips is when two cards of the same rank fall matching one of your hole cards).

Nevertheless, the term "best hand" may have different meanings depending on which version of the game you are playing. Let's look at the most popular forms of the game.

The three main ways to compare the players' hands to assess who wins the pot are:

  • Straight High
  • Straight Low
  • High/Low

Of course, all players must agree on the form being played before the start of the game, correct strategy depends on this.

Straight High

Generally, unless otherwise specified, poker is played as straight high. That is to say that the highest cards are the strongest.

Straight Low

Straight low is the exact opposite of straight high in that it is the lowest cards which are the strongest. This needs to be agreed before the start of the game to avoid confusion.

High/Low split (Hi-Lo Split)

High/Low split should also be agreed before the start of the game. In this form of the game, the pot is split between the player with the best high hand and the player with the best low hand.

There are specific rules for High/Low split games.

  • In particular the low is not necessarily a recognized hand type.
  • There is also an "8 or better" rule which means that only cards 8 or lower can form part of a low hand and pairs, sets/trips and quads can not be counted as low.

There are other ways of playing poker, according to the type of game you choose.

The kill

This version is mainly used in cash games.

In this case, when a player wins a high/low pot without having to share it with another player, it is said to be a "scoop.". He then receives the "kill" button. If that player then makes a new scoop on the next hand, he is called the "killer". The killer must then bet at least double the big blind, even if he himself also had to post the small or big blind.

The game continues as if the bets were doubled: this constraint disappears when the "killer" wins a hand.

The half-kill

As its name implies, this form of poker is closely related to the game option previously described: the kill.

The difference is that in this form killer does not have to post double the big blind, only 1.5 times the amount of the big blind.

The look at two and kill

This version of the game is often played in low mode. This mode can be activated by any player after they have looked at their hole cards. He then receives the "kill" button. This player can thereafter become the killer and we are in the same situation as the previous paragraph.

The option

This game mode is particularly popular in French casinos. In a game where you play with chips representing real money, the player in the big blind can take the "option" before looking at their hole cards.

By doing so, he must bet double the big blind and will be the last player to act in the first round of betting.

Now that you know about the different forms of poker, go out and have fun playing them!

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Last updated, 27 March 2014
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