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16 Aug 09 The Rules of Poker

Each player is dealt two cards. These are private cards, only being visible to the player receiving those cards. These cards are normally referred to as hole cards. A round of betting Follows this initial deal. Next, three community cards (called the flop) are dealt, face up, in the middle of the table. These cards are used by every player to make the best five card poker hand, using their hole cards. A round of betting follows the flop. Next, another community card (called the turn) is dealt face up in the middle of the table. Another round of betting follows. Finally, another community card (called the river) is dealt and a final round of betting follows. Once this final round of betting has taken place, assuming there are two or more players who still have an interest in the pot, the cards are shown and the highest poker hand wins. In forming a poker hand, the players can use any combination of their two hole cards and the five community cards to make the best five card poker hand. The various poker hands are as follows, in descending order.

Royal Flush: Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace, all in the same suit.

Straight Flush: any sequence of five cards, all of the same suit.

Four of a Kind: four cards having the same value, one from each suit.

Full House: three cards of the same value combined with two cards of the same value. For example, Three 2’s and a pair of Queens.

Flush: all five cards have the same suit.

Straight: all five card values are in sequence, made up from at least two suits.

Three of a Kind: three cards all having the same value.

Two Pairs: two cards of the same value, combined with another two card of the same

value. For example, two 9’s and two 3’s.

A Pair: two cards having the same value.

Single Card: the highest value card is used to value the hand.

When betting, the players have three choices to make. They can either fold (throw in their cards and relinquish all claims to the money in the pot), they can call (match the amount of money bet so far) or they can raise (increase the current bet, thus forcing all the other players to match this amount or fold). To start the betting it is usual to put in some form of ante. This is a mechanism to start the betting by giving the players an interest in the pot. In this paper we have not implemented a full version of Texas Hold ‘Em, preferring a version of poker, where the players are dealt five cards and, after a round of betting, are allowed to trade two cards before a final round of betting. This version is known as draw poker and was considered as a suitable test bed for this initial investigation.


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