Writing About Poker


Poker is a card game of chance and skill, where players compete for a pot (the amount of money placed in the betting circle during one deal) by making the best 5-card hand. The game is most commonly played between six and fourteen players.

Before any cards are dealt, a player designated by the rules of the particular poker variant being played may choose to open the betting. This means that he places chips in the pot equal to or greater than the total contribution made by the players who came before him. If no player opens, each player must place a fixed number of chips in the pot to begin with.

A player is then dealt five cards, and can make a poker hand from those cards and the community cards on the table. The highest poker hand is a royal flush, which consists of four matching cards of the same rank in one suit. A straight is five consecutive cards of the same rank, while a three of a kind is two matching cards of one rank and two unmatched cards of another rank. The lowest poker hand is a pair, which consists of two distinct cards of the same rank. A high card breaks ties in case of identical pairs.

In addition to the main pot, players can also place chips in side pots, which are smaller pools of money that are awarded to players who have specific hands. These side pots can add a lot of extra tension to a game, since they can have different winners than the original pot.

When describing poker scenes, it is important to focus on the reactions of the characters and their interactions with each other. Describing a series of cards draws, bets, checks and reveals will quickly feel lame and gimmicky. Instead, a writer should try to build up the tension of the scene through a gradual rise in action. The first step to this is by focusing on the opening hands and how they play out, including who bluffs, who raises and how the others react.

In most poker games, the dealer is the last to receive his cards. After he has done so, the other players can then call his bet and raise it. When calling a bet, a player must say “call” or “I call” and place his bet in front of him in the center of the table. Players must then decide whether to discard their cards and draw new ones, or to hold their cards and “hold pat.”