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The term poker refers to a family of card games that share betting rules and generally, though not always, card rankings.  There are many different variations of poker that differ by how the cards are dealt, how players are allowed to form hands, how a high or low hand wins the money pot in a show down, limits on bets and betting rounds allowed, and how the pot is split in case of tie.  In most games, the first round of betting includes some type of forced bet, with action then proceeding to the left.  Players also must match previous maximum bets or fold, which means to forfeit all further investment in the game.  Many people feel that it is this betting system that distinguishes poker from other gambling games.  With the exception of the first forced bet, money is only placed into the pot by players voluntarily.  This means that the outcome of a hand, while mostly determined by chance, in the long run is influenced by the actions chosen by players.

The history of poker games is a subject of great debate today.  In the 15th century, there was a German game called Pchspiel which incorporated betting, hand rankings and bluffing, and it is thought to be the first known ancestor of poker by some.  Poker also closely resemples a Persian game called As Nas, but we have no specific record of As Nas before the year 1890;  There is some evidence in existance that points to a French game called Poque as the predecessor of poker.  It was largely played in the region where poker is said to have originated.

It is speculated that the name poker is derrived from the German word pochen which means to brag or to bluff.  Poker is usually though to share ancestry with the rennaisance games of primero and brelan.  The English gam of brag is also clearly related to brag and incorporates a great deal of bluffing.  It is also possible that all of the mentioned game influenced the game of poker as we know it today.

Some of the basic variations of poker are straight, stud, draw and community.  Straight poker is where a complete hand is dealt to each player, and raising and re-raising of bets is allowed.  This is the oldest game in the poker family and was very popular with gentleman around the time of the American Revolutionary War.  In stud poker, cards are dealt in a prearranged combination of face down and face up cards, and players must make the best possible poker hand.  There are many stud variations that incorporate three, five, or seven cards.  In draw poker, players are dealt a complete hand, but face down.  The object is to discard unwanted hands and recieve new ones from the dealer in order to create their strongest poker hand.  Finally, in community poker, a variation of stud, players are dealt an incomplete hand of cards, all facing down.  There are then a number of cards dealt face up at the center of the family.  These cards are shared in common by all players as they try to create their poker hands.

This article was written by Chloe Marine.

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