Poker is a card game that requires a combination of strategy, skill and good fortune to win. There are numerous different variations of it, with the most popular of the modern era being Texas Hold’em. Despite the game having been created during the 19th century in the United States of America, it is in more recent years that its popularity has truly taken off both in terms of playing it and watching others play. Tournaments like the World Series of Poker have become big business, with final matches gaining large television viewing figures.
Players use a combination of psychology, probability and game theory to determine their chance of winning, placing bets during the hand accordingly. Those that master these sides of the game stand themselves in good stead, given that tournaments can be worth big money. The money involved in each hand depends on how many players choose to take part, though there is always a big and small blind paid by players before they’ve seen the card to ensure that there is at least some money available for the winners. Poker tournaments work as knockout events, with players removed from the game once they’ve lost all of their money.
Best Site For Betting On Live Poker
Despite Poker being responsible for most of the revenue in the early days of online gambling it is surprising how hard it can be to find good markets and odds for live poker events such as the world series.
One of the best bookies to look at is Betfair as they not only cover major live poker events in their sportsbook but you can often find better odds in the exchange. WSOP events especially attract a lot of exchange betting allowing you to find better value.
For other fixed odds markets Bet365 are good to look at close to events.
How To Bet On Poker Tournaments and Players
As with the majority of the lesser-known sports looked at on these pages, the major bookmakers tend to only offer odds on the very biggest events. Even then you’ll be hard pushed to find more exciting bets than the most mainstream ones available.
Don’t be surprised, for example, if you can only bet on who is going to win the World Series of Poker main event from the biggest bookies you’re a member of. Sometimes you can bet on something more interesting, such as which players will make the final table of the tournament, but it’s not really all that common.
If you can find a bookmaker that specialises in poker betting then you might well be able to explore more exciting bets, including choosing a pair of players and betting on one of them to go further in the tournament than the other regardless of where they both finish in the final rankings.
Equally, most of the big name bookies in the UK will let you bet on the biggest poker tournaments, with the World Series of Poker being the most obvious example. Specialist bookmakers might let you bet on lesser known tournaments, but make sure that you only bet with reputable companies.
In terms of how to bet on poker tournaments, the key is to do your research. Professional poker isn’t just a game of luck, though fortune unquestionable plays its part. There are many aspects to what makes a good poker player, including the ability to bluff and read others who might be trying to bluff you. Likewise players with a solid grasp of the probability of any given hand being in play at a particular time will be well-placed to win.
Doing your research is arguably more important when betting on poker tournaments than any other event, for the simple reason that psychology plays a huge part in winning. Have two players got a history of playing against each other, for example? Or has one recently had a baby and might be lacking sleep, or broken up with their partner and will therefore be emotionally charged? All questions you should be asking yourself before you place your bets.
The History Of Poker
The Origins Of The Game
When looking at the history of poker it’s important to differentiate between the history of the card game and the history of it as a competitive event that people enjoy watching at home. That being said, it’s impossible to talk about the one without the other, so we’ll give you a look at both and explain how the latter came into being and developed as one of the world of card’s most popular events.
The exact moment that poker was created as a card game isn’t known, though it’s believed by some that the notion of dealing 5 cards to the players from a deck of 20 takes its system of play from the Persian game of As-Nas. That was created in the 17th century, with some rejecting that notion and instead believing that it is more likely to be a descendant of the French game poque.
There are many other theories surrounding the game’s origin, including one that it comes from the English game of brag, which incorporates bluffing into the game play.
Indeed, such is the lack of clarity on the subject of poker’s origin that plenty of people think it’s got little to do with any of those games, instead sharing card play techniques that are common in plenty of different card games. Rather, modern thoughts on the matter concentrate on the betting aspect of the game, which is what differentiates it from other forms of card play and is unique to poker.
Those that think this is the key to understanding poker date the game back to the mid-18th century, when it spread through the Mississippi River region.
The Game Takes Shape
The initial game played in Mississippi saw numerous variations favoured by different players, with two people often using just 20 cards from the deck. As it began to spread along the river thanks to prospectors involved in the gold rush, the game began to be fixed on the 52-card variation and the flush was soon added to the roster of winning hands.
The draw became part of the game in 1850 and more versions of poker were created with the outbreak of the American Civil War. These included 5-card stud poker, lowball poker and split-pot poker. The first example of poker games that involved the use of community cards occurred in 1925, but it was a change that would prove to be one of the most revolutionary and important in poker’s history.
The Development Of Modern Poker
The essence of poker didn’t change much in the decades that followed, but soon one particular variant began to dominate all others. It was first played in the area of Robstown in Texas in the early part of the 20th century, slowly making its way across the country before being introduced to Las Vegas in 1963.
It proved to be popular, moving from the California Club to the casino floors of the likes of the Stardust, the Golden Nugget and the Dunes. The new game soon became known as Texas Hold’em poker and its popularity grew exponentially.
Part of the reason why the Las Vegas crowd fell in love with Texas Hold’em is that it gave the players four chances to bet, as opposed to draw poker’s two betting chances. It meant that players could think strategically, becoming more of an intellectual game that one based largely on the idea of fortune.
Soon the Golden Nugget became the de facto home of Hold’em, being the only casino to offer it to punters on a regular basis. When it moved from there to the Dunes in 1969, professional players made a heap of money because the Dunes was in a more prominent spot and most of the people that sat down to play the game there had never played it before.
The World Series Of Poker Is Formed
Of all of the things that caused poker to develop as a game, the most influential was unquestionably the formation of the World Series of Poker. It began life as a Gambling Fraternity Convention, which featured a poker tournament during its running. Numerous versions of poker were played, with Hold’em being one of them.
Whilst it wasn’t overly successful, Benny and Jack Binion felt that there was enough promise to mean that it was worth their while buying it in 1970. They immediately chose to re-brand it as the World Series of Poker and moved it to their own casino, Binion’s Horseshoe.
In 1971 a journalist named Tom Thackrey played in the tournament and suggested to the Binions that the best move that they could make would be to make the main event of the tournament a variation of Texas Hold’em in which there was no-limit. They agreed and in the years that followed interest in the main event grew and grew.
In 1972 just eight players wanted to take part in the event, but by 1982 this had grown to see more than a hundred people turning up to take part. One of the main reasons for the surge in popularity was the Tibbetts v. Van De Kamp lawsuit that declared Texas Hold’em to be legal to play in card rooms in California, resulting in the game’s explosion across the state.
Texas Hold’em can be played with two or more players, usually up to around ten in a single game. One player is declared to be the dealer, even if there’s an actual professional dealer on the table. They are labelled ‘The Button’ and will often have a plastic chip placed in front of them so that everyone knows they’re acting as the dealer.
The player to the left of The Button is the Small Blind, which means that they have to pay a forced contribution into the pot, known as an ante. For the purposes of our example, let’s say that that is £5. The person to their left is the Big Blind and their ante is double the small blind, or in this case £10. The Big Blind is equal to the minimum bet in the game and they are called ‘Blinds’ because they are put into the pot before any players look at their cards.
Once the Blinds have been paid the dealer will given each player taking part two cards. All players are then allowed to look at their cards and decided whether or not they’d like to take part in the game. Starting with the payer to the left of the Big Blind, if a player wants to take part then they will ‘call’ the bet by paying the same amount of money into the pot as the Big Blind. At any point any player can choose to ‘raise’, which means paying at least double the Big Blind.
This continues around the table, with players either calling or folding, until everyone has paid the same amount of money into the pot. At this point, the dealer will deal the ‘flop’ into the middle of the table, which is three community cards. Another round of betting ensues, with players given the option to check, which means neither placing a bet nor folding, bet or fold. Once a bet has been placed checking is no longer an option.
After this round of betting the ‘turn’ is dealt, which is a fourth community card. Another round of betting ensues and at its conclusion the ‘river’, a fifth community card, is dealt into the middle of the table. After this there is a final round of betting, always starting with the player to the left of The Button who is still active in the game. Once everyone has paid the same amount of money into the pot, the first player to raise reveals their cards. The rest of the players then decide whether to reveal their cards or not, based on whether they have a better hand.
Hands in Texas Hold’em poker are made up of 5 cards taken from the 2 ‘hole’ cards that each individual player has and the 5 community cards. You can use both hole cards, one hold card or no hold cards, as long as you can make a hand of five cards. In terms of who will ‘win’, here’s the list of winning hands in order:
- Royal Flush: 10 to Ace of all the same suit
- Straight Flush: Any 5 cards all of the same suit in numerical order
- Four of a Kind: 4 of the same card
- Full House: A pair and 3 of a kind
- Flush: 5 cards all of the same suit
- Straight: 5 cards of any suit in numerical order
- Three of a Kind: 3 of the same card
- Two Pair: 2 cards of the same value twice, as in 2 2 and 8 8
- Pair: 2 cards of the same value
- Highcard: Which card is the highest? Ace is high in Texas Hold’em
The high card is always the defining factor, so if more than one player has a Straight, for example, but one player’s ends with a 10 and the other’s with an Ace then the one with the Ace will be the winner.
Main Poker Tournaments
|World Series Of Poker Main Event||The World Series of Poker’s Main Event has taken place since 1972 and requires a $10,000 buy-in from the players. Sometimes there are competitions run by satellite tournaments to earn a place in the Main Event|
|WSOP Europe Main Event||Prior to the launch of this expansion to the WSOP brand, players would have to travel to Las Vegas in order to take part in the World Series of Poker. This European edition was launched in 2007|
|The Poker Players Championship||This is another part of the World Series of Poker, requiring a $50,000 buy-in. It has taken place since 2006 when it was known as the H.O.R.S.E. World Championship|
|World Poker Tour||Launched in 2002, the World Poker Tour has operated a series of poker tournaments around the world that are broadcast live on TV. The WPT Main Tour is the preeminent event of the series|
|World Championship of Online Poker||Operated by Poker Stars, the World Championship of Online Poker is very much the modern day poker tournament. Launched in 2002, it takes place each September and is, as the name suggests, for online poker players|
Knowing how to play poker will help you when it comes to placing your bets because you’ll need to know the tactics being employed by the players in any given situation. Playing the game a few times yourself is a clever thing to do, even if you only do it online on one of the free poker apps that are out there.
Once you’ve got to grips with how the game is played, it’s time to watch some of the bigger tournaments to see how the professionals do it and to make note of the tactics employed. The table above shows the biggest ones out there.