Ask the Dealer: A Poker Primer

Ask the Dealer About Poker

Pull up a chair and get in on the action with Ask the Dealer, a new monthly feature in which we answer some of your most frequently asked questions about poker, craps, blackjack, roulette and more.

C’mon. Ante up! What have you got to lose?

What’s the deal with poker?

Poker has been around since it was invented in New Orleans in the early 19th century. That’s nearly two hundred years of folks knowing “when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.” So why is it so hot now?

Casinos had their hand in popularizing the game, as did televised tournaments, hand-held electronic games, and of course, the Internet.

What poker games are played in casinos?

Casinos will deal you in on a wide variety of poker games:

  • Texas Hold ‘em. Each player is dealt two cards facedown (hole cards), while all players share five cards (community cards) dealt face up. The object is to combine your own hole cards with any of the community cards for the best five-card hand.
  • Omaha Hold ‘em. Similar to Texas Hold ‘em, each player is dealt four cards and must make the best hand using just two of them combined with three of the community cards.
  • Pineapple. There are several variations of this game, but in regular Pineapple each player is dealt three hole cards. Each player must discard one card from their hand. Play continues on just like Texas Hold ‘em.
  • 7 Card Stud. Players ante up before the deal, then receive two hole cards and one card face up (door card.) Each player is dealt a total of seven cards (three up, four down) and must choose the best five-card combination from among these.

Which poker hands beat others?

Play your cards right and you could be the big winner. Poker hands from best to worst are as follows:

  • Royal flush—Five cards in numerical order, all identical in suit, consisting of Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten.
  • Straight flush—Five cards in numerical order, all identical in suit.
  • Four of a kind—Four cards of the same rank and one side card, known as the “kicker.”
  • Full house—Three cards of the same rank and two cards of a different matching rank. For example, three 6’s and two Jacks would make a full house.
  • Flush—Five cards of the same suit, not in sequential order.
  • Straight—Five cards in a sequence of varying suits.
  • Three of a kind—Three cards of the same rank. For example, three Queens. The two additional cards do not factor in.
  • Two pair—Two sets of two cards of matching rank, along with one additional card. For example, two 8s, two Jacks, and a 2.
  • One pair—Two cards of the same rank and three unrelated side cards. For example, two Queens, a 4, 7, and 9.
  • High card—Five unrelated cards, not matching in rank or in sequence. Highest card wins.

Which poker hand is the best?

Pre-flop, pocket Aces. In other words, when the first two cards dealt to you at the beginning of Hold ‘em are Aces, but community cards have not yet been dealt.

Let the games begin.

Check back monthly for more Ask the Dealer answers on your biggest questions. In the meantime, practice makes perfect, so come on over to Island Resort & Casino and go all in our casino games, poker, bingo, and slots, check out our headlining entertainment, enjoy fine dining, or spend the evening in one of our 300 guest rooms or suites. You’ll feel pretty lucky when you do.

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