Writing About Poker

Poker is a card game where players bet on their hand (which includes their two private cards and five community cards) with the goal of winning a “pot” of chips. Players are required to place an initial amount of money into the pot before they get their cards, called forced bets or antes. During the betting phase, each player takes turns revealing their cards. The hand with the highest ranking cards wins the pot.

The most important thing to remember when writing about Poker is to focus on the characters and their reactions. If you just describe a series of cards draws, bets, checks and reveals, it will feel lame or gimmicky. The scene should build towards a dramatic moment when the key player’s card is revealed. Then, the rest of the scene can focus on the by-play between the players (who flinched and who smiled).

After each round of betting, the dealer deals an additional card face up to the table. This card is called the flop. Then another round of betting begins. The player to the left of the dealer starts the betting, by saying “call” or similar wording. A call means that you are making a bet equal to the last bet. Then, a fifth card is dealt (“River”) and another round of betting begins. This is the last chance for players to make a high card hand. If a high card is the only remaining hand, then it wins the pot.