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Poker game
Poker Room in the MGM Grand , Las Vegas

Poker is the name of a family of card games that are normally played with poker cards of the Anglo-American hand of 52 cards and in which a hand (poker hand) is formed with the help of five cards . Without knowing the (exact) hand of the opponent, the players place differently high and more or less valuable stakes (tokens, chips , money etc.) on the chances of winning their own hand. The chips used by the players in a game (“pot”) ultimately go to the player with the strongest hand or the only remaining player if all other players are not ready to place the stake they have submitted. This opens up the possibility of winning with weak cards by bluffing . The goal in poker is to win as many chips, tokens or money as possible from other players.

Depending on the game variant , the player has different options for putting together his hand. The maximum and preferred number of players also differ depending on the variant. In some, it is not the best hand ( high ) that wins , but the worst ( low ) .

In casinos, game variants are also offered in which the players do not all play against each other for a pot, but each individually against the house.

From a legal point of view, poker is largely counted among the games of chance in Germany .

Course of a poker game

The position of the players at the table. The buttons mark the blinds and the dealer .

The dealer

In a private environment, shuffling and dealing the cards is the job of one of the players, the so-called dealer . The role of the dealer changes from game to game in turn between the other players. In casinos , the cards are usually distributed by an employee of the house. The symbolic position of the dealer is marked by a token, the dealer button on the gaming table.

Minimum stakes

Depending on the game variant, players must place minimum stakes at the start of the game. This is done using blinds or antees . The blinds are posted by players who are in a certain position relative to the dealer . Antes are used by all players or, to simplify the process, occasionally in turn by a single player on behalf of all.

Course of a game

After the minimum bets have been placed, all players receive their first cards from the dealer . This is followed by one or more betting rounds, in which the players assess their cards and place their bets. The distribution of the cards is changed between the individual betting rounds by the dealer distributing more cards or giving the players the opportunity to swap cards. As a rule, some players drop out voluntarily ( fold ) during the betting rounds . Their stake remains in the pot . If, in a betting round, a player makes a bet that none of the other players outweighs with a bet of the same amount ( call ), the game ends. The player wins the pot; the players' face down cards do not normally have to be revealed.

The last round of betting is reached when all card issues or card exchanges provided for in the game scheme have been carried out, or when the stakes have reached the agreed maximum value ( limit ). If two or more players have bet the same amount, a showdown occurs : the other players remaining in the game reveal their cards, and the value of the respective hands determines who receives the pot .

Course of a betting round

In a betting round, players bet on the value of their (often incomplete) hand. To do this, they usually place their bets in front of them on the gaming table. In some variants, a betting round always begins with the player to the left of the dealer. In other variants, the start of the betting round can vary. The right to play moves around the table at least exactly once. If raises are made, the right to play moves just enough for every player to react to the last raise. For this, the first bet of the round is seen as a raise (from zero). At the end of a betting round, either all of the remaining players have placed nothing, have placed bets of the same amount, or all but one player has dropped out. The bets in front of the players are put into the pot at the end of the betting round .

Possible moves in a betting round

Were not made any bets in a round of betting ( blinds are not considered to use) so a player either push (can check ) or an insert ( bet ) make. If other players have already bet or raised, the player can either drop out of the game ( fold ), place a bet of the same amount himself ( call ) or place a higher bet ( raise ). Depending on the game variant, different minimum and maximum numbers ( limit ) apply to the amounts wagered and the number of increases per betting round .


A hand is valued in poker by the amount of the combination. The less likely a combination is, the better the hand. If two players have the same combination, the final criterion is the kicker who decides who receives the pot. However, if two players have the same five cards, there is usually a split pot ; the colors are irrelevant.

The formation of one's own hand from just five cards is used in the now less common Draw variants and in Five Card Stud . In the widespread variants of Texas Hold'em and Seven Card Stud , the player puts together his five-card hand from the seven available cards; therefore with seven cards there are higher probabilities for the higher-valued card combinations.

In the case of a straight, the ace can either be at the top after the king or at the bottom as a one. A straight from ace to five is valid, as is a straight from ten to ace. Round The Corner Straights , for example from king to four, do not apply. It follows that a street must always contain a 5 or a 10.

Surname meaning example Decision criterion Probability (five cards) Probability (seven cards)
High Card
( High Card )
None of the combinations below A
K   J   7   4
Height of each card 50.12% 17.41%
A pair
( One Pair )
Two cards of the same rank 10   10
J   8   6
Height of the pair and the supplementary cards 42.26% 43.83%
Two pairs
( two pair )
Two couples J   J   8   8
Height of the pairs and the additional card 4.75% 23.50%
( Three of a Kind )
Three cards of the same rank Q   Q   Q
A   4
Amount of triplets and additional cards 2.11% 4.83%
( Straight )
Five cards in a row 7   8   9   10   J Supreme card 0.392% 4.62%
Five cards of one suit 3   5   8   9   K Height of each card 0.197% 3.03%
Full house
Three of a kind and a pair K   K   K   9   9 Height of triplet and height of pair 0.144% 2.60%
( Four of a Kind )
Four cards of the same rank A   A   A   A
Height of the quadruplet and the additional card 0.0240% 0.17%
Straight flush
Road in one color 8   9   10   J   Q Supreme card 0.00139% 0.028%
Royal flush
Straight in a suit with Ace as the highest card 10   J   Q   K   A Split pot 0.000154% 0.0032%

Game variants

Example of Texas Hold'em
Seven Card Stud has long been more popular than Five Card Stud
In five card draw, each player only sees his own cards
Poker dice

To describe a poker variant complete, the category that must betting structure , the dummy structure and rating variant and optionally special rules are specified. The type of game determines which cards the player can see and which cards he can use to form the best hand. The betting structure determines how much the player can bet or raise. The blind structure determines how the base of stakes for the game is formed. The game can be modified in any way with the special rules.

Basic varieties

There are roughly three different categories of card poker.

In addition to Texas Hold'em , which has been by far the most popular variant for some time, the Hold'em category also includes Omaha Hold'em , which is very similar to the first-mentioned variant. In these and all other Hold'em variants in the course of time are called community cards ( dt. Community cards or English. Board Cards ), with these two variants are five, on the table. With these cards each player can form his hand. In addition to these cards, each player receives hole cards at the start of a round . These cards are only visible to this player, so they can only be used by this player. Internationally, the No Limit Texas Hold'em variant is the most widespread. No limit means that every player can bet all of their chips on every turn. The limit pot limit is particularly widespread in the Omaha Hold'em variant . The reason Texas Hold'em is so popular is that while the game is easy to learn for beginners, it still takes time for a player to reach a high level.

In Stud Poker , each player receives both face-down and face-down cards. Another feature of this variant is that the position of the player who opens the round changes very frequently. In addition to the casino game Tropical Stud , this category also includes the widespread Seven Card Stud , which has almost completely replaced the older Five Card Stud . Stud is usually always played with ante and fixed limit . Until a few years ago, Seven Card Stud was usually the only variant offered in casinos. In the meantime, however, more and more casinos are also offering Texas Hold'em.

The third category, Draw Poker , is considered to be the oldest. Here each player receives a fixed number of cards, depending on the variant, which he holds face down in his hand. Draw Poker is the only category in which a player does not see an opponent's cards. The best known variant is Five Card Draw . In this variant, each player holds five cards in hand. He can exchange cards for unknown cards in several betting rounds in order to improve his hand. Five Card Draw was also the most popular and widespread variant for a long time and was also featured in many films. Since the variant was very widespread in the Wild West , it can be found especially in Westerns .

Other popular casino poker variants that do not belong directly to these categories are Pai Gow Poker and Easy Poker . Poker can also be played with dice . Poker dice originated in the United States around 1880 . There is a patent from 1881. Poker dice show the card symbols ace, king, queen, jack, ten and nine on the six faces. The ace is opposite the nine, the king of ten and the queen opposite the jack. The three fundamentally different forms of dice poker are Poker Dice or Open Dice Poker , Liar Dice or Covered Dice Poker ( French: Poker Menteur ) and Escalero .

Setting structure

Poker chips

The betting structure indicates how much a player can bet and how much he can raise. Here, too, a distinction is made between different variations. In the no-limit variant, the player can bet all his chips at any time, one says: he is all in . This limit is used particularly frequently in the Hold'em variants.

The only difference between the pot limit variant and the no limit mentioned above is that the maximum amount that can be bet is what is already in the pot. When a player makes a bet, it is immediately added to the pot.

Fixed limit (often just called limit ) dictates the size of the bets and increases directly for each individual betting round. While it is possible for the same limit to be used on each betting round, this is unusual. It is widespread that the basic bet is doubled after half of the betting rounds. Another rule that is frequently used is that a maximum of three increases may be made in a betting round. This limit is very opposite to the no limit . The difference comes from the fact that with this variant it is very difficult to bluff the opponent from one hand .

Spread limit is nowhere near as common as the other three variants. You may only bet or increase within a certain range.

In all limit variants, a player who wants to raise must raise the stake by at least the big blind . In the case of Fixed Limit , this is even required of the player; so he has to raise exactly by the blind . One exception is in the variants No - and pot limit the all-in shows.

Another exception is the so-called cap, in which the maximum stake of a single player is limited to a fixed amount over all betting rounds. This effectively limits the player's stack to the cap for each running hand. Usually only no limit and pot limit cash games with high blinds or antes with a cap are played.

Structure of the minimum stakes

See also the minimum stakes section

In order to put some pressure on the players, there must be a certain amount of chips in the pot before the start of a game round. Depending on the variant, the two solutions blind and ante are common. While the former is only paid by two players, the so-called small and big blind , the ante must be paid by all players.

In Hold'em variants always traditionally blinds used. On the other hand, there are both stud and draw variants, in which almost exclusively antes have to be paid. Both blinds and antes are often used, especially later in large Hold'em tournaments, but also in cash games .

Scoring variants

The scoring variant indicates the order in which a hand can be combined.

The classic variant is high . The best hand wins here, measured against the usual combination possibilities . The Royal Flush is thus the strongest hand, while high card is the weakest combination. High is the most common today.

In the case of low (also known as lowball ), it is not the best hand that wins, but the weakest hand. Low is actually just an umbrella term, which in turn knows different valuation variants. The most common sub-variant of Low is called Lowball ace to five . She knows neither straights nor flushes . The lowest card is the ace , which represents a one . The ace is followed by the usual order, 2-10 , followed by the face cards. The best hand in the variant mentioned above is a combination of cards from ace to five, the weakest is a four of a kind with a queen as a kicker . Another sub-variant is Lowball Deuce to Seven . There are all the usual combinations, including straights and flushes . The ace is considered the highest card. So the best hand is two to seven without a six. If several players have the same combination at low , the player with the highest card loses. If this is identical, the second highest card counts, then the third highest card. If two or more players have the same best hand, a split pot occurs as usual .

There is also high / low . This variant combines the other two rating variants. In the end, the pot is split into two equal parts. One part goes to the best hand as with high , the other goes to the lowest hand as with low variant. It is quite possible, though unlikely, with one hand both the best low - as well as the best high keep -Hand (Scoop) . The hand ace to five (the so-called wheel ) is particularly desirable, as it represents both a straight and the low nuts . Another interesting sub-variant, which is often used in the high / low variants described below , is the so-called eight or better . To qualify for a low hand, the player needs five unpaired cards with the value 8 as the highest allowed value. The ace counts as one, and flushes and straights do not count against the player.

Special rules

In addition to home games , special rules are often used in cash games . In such a game, if all the players remaining in the pot accept a rule change proposal, it is usually applied. A well-known special rule is that a player must have a minimum hand in order to start betting. In the Let it Ride casino game , players are only paid out when they have a better hand than a pair of tens. Another common rule is that certain cards in a deck are declared wilds. Wildcards can be introduced for this. This also makes a quintuplet possible. This hand even beats a royal flush according to the usual rules.

There are also a number of modified variants, such as Royal Hold'em or Speedpoker .

Terms, game theory and psychology

Technical terms

Over the years, specific, mostly English, terms have become commonplace for almost all courses of a hand. These terms usually have to be differentiated depending on the game variant in order to be understood correctly. The reason almost all of the terms are in English is because the game has its roots in the United States and most of the major developments have taken place there.

Game theory

Poker has served as an example for various pioneers in mathematical game theory . In 1928 John von Neumann announced a mathematical “proof of the necessity of 'bluffing' in poker”. Since “real poker is far too complicated a subject to be discussed exhaustively”, only very simplified models have been examined. The first results, which formally explained the necessity and nature of bluffing on the basis of a two-person poker model, were published by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern in 1944. Also John Nash's dissertation from 1950 at Princeton University , for which he who received the Nobel Prize in Economics together with Reinhard Selten and John Harsanyi in 1994 , contains a three-person version of a very simple poker model as an example of his non-cooperative approach ( Nash equilibrium ).

The game-theoretical justifications for decisions are particularly effective in online poker, where it is impossible to tell players whether they have good cards or not through physical body reactions (eyes, hands, verbal behavior, etc.), also known as tells . The classic work in which poker is analyzed in game theory is The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky . From a theoretical point of view, it is optimal in every situation to make the decision with the highest expected value , that is, the decision that brings you the most chips or the most money on average. For example, a decision in which you win € 15 in 10 percent of the cases and lose € 1 in 90 percent of the cases is clearly preferable to another style of play in which you lose € 10 in 50 percent of the cases and 10 in the other 50 percent € wins. To do this, it is important to understand and apply the concept of pot odds .

It is also important to consider your own position when making decisions. A form of poker that is particularly well developed from a mathematical point of view are tournaments in the form of sit and go . For their late phase, in which the players' chips are small compared to the blinds , there is a mathematical model with the independent chip model, with the help of which decisions can be made .

Psychological component

A good player can guess what strategy the opponent is playing by observing the other players. He pays attention to the betting and playing behavior , as well as the speed with which decisions are made. In addition to observing the style of play, the behavior of the players can also be used to recognize signs that indicate the strength of the hands (so-called tells ). It is said that looking at the cards for a long time is a sign of a strong hand. You can also tell if a player is nervous. To determine this, the players observe the posture, eyes, face and hands of the opponents. If a player gives absolutely no information about tells , for example no nervousness, one speaks of a poker face . This requires very strong discipline. This is why many professional poker players use sunglasses, among other things, to cover their eyes. Other methods include only looking at the cards as briefly as possible and listening to music through headphones to distract yourself. When players count their remaining chips, it often shows that they have few left but still want to play that hand. Others perform tricks with the chips to distract their opponents. In addition, some players give advice to other players or comment on the revealed cards and their own cards. Some players even provoke their opponents with harsh verbal attacks. If you recognize in which situations and how the players talk, you can also take advantage of this. You can use this method to unsettle your opponents. To show their safety, some players order a drink after they have gone all in to indicate that they will be sitting at the table for a long time. Good players have mastered these methods and can use them variably, even if they are actually unusual. Most online casinos therefore offer chats . There, however, the player cannot read the opponents' facial expressions , but only interpret the behavior and the strategy.

History and etymology

A 19th century punch board


The Persian card game As Nas is often mentioned as the oldest forerunner of the game of poker , but this claim is certainly wrong. In fact, the German Poch or French Poque are primarily to be viewed as early forms of poker. Further forerunners are the Primero (Spanish or Italian: Primiera and French: Prime ) , which was widespread in the 16th century . Other games that have influenced the evolution of poker include English Brag and French Bouillotte (Brelan) and Belle, River, and Thirty-one .

The names Poch and Poque are derived from the verb " pochen ", which means to poke in English . From this the name poker developed in further consequence; however, this is only proven in 1836.

Early developments

The game was brought to the United States by French settlers in New Orleans around 1829 . English actor Joseph Crowell reported at the time that the game was played with a pack of 20 cards by four players. The players bet on the supposedly best hand . Starting from there, the game spread mainly through Mississippi - steamships throughout the East of the country. Jonathan E. Green was the first to warn in writing against the card game in 1834. He called it a cheat game that cost many settlers their entire fortune. During the gold rush in the middle of the 19th century, the game spread to the west of the States. After the game had spread across the United States, a package of 52 cards was consistently played. In addition, the flush was introduced.

Development of the variants

Many variants of poker, such as stud poker or draw poker , were played for the first time during the Civil War (1861-1865). The straight was also recorded as a hand during this period .

The youngest group are the Hold'Em variants. The oldest poker variant with community cards is Spit in the Ocean , so that the Hold'Em variants often appear in the literature under the name Spit Poker . Of course, Spit in the Ocean is more like classic five card draw than modern Texas Hold'em . There is a closer relationship between the modern Hold'em games and Cincinnati , one of the countless Dealer's Choice variants. Interestingly, there is a description of Texas Hold'em in "Hoyle" from 1983 (A. Morehead and G. Mott-Smith) under the name Omaha . The Hold'em variants only experienced the great boom in the late 1990s, when these variants were favored by the casinos.

Poker boom

Table at the 2006 WSOP

Poker saw a surge in popularity with the start of the World Series of Poker in the early 1970s. Before that, it was considered a pure game of chance with no strategic elements. This widespread image was reinforced by the fact that in earlier times, especially in the 19th century, there were often violent arguments due to fraud, which could also end bloody. The poker boom began when amateur player Chris Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP and was made possible to a large extent by the development of online poker . The number of participants for this tournament has increased tenfold in the following three years to over 8,000 players (in 2006). The percentage growth of the market is high in the European countries that traditionally had no affinity for poker, including Germany. Another development is that more and more players, including beginners, are playing poker on the Internet. The providers also promote this with intensive advertising measures.

As a result of the boom, more and more poker programs, mainly tournaments, are being broadcast on German-speaking television. To make it easier for the many beginners to get started in the game, many companies produce poker sets that include the most important accessories; a market for poker tables has also established itself. These changes have contributed to the fact that poker in Germany has become "socially acceptable" in recent years and is played by many.

Social development

Poker has long had a very bad reputation as a game of chance and has been associated with card sharks and cardsharps. During the early days of poker in the 19th century, it was mostly spread by professional players who threw out novices and amateurs through superior mastery of the game, sometimes through cheating. In fact, the distribution of the cards is random, but the players' free choice of when and how much to bet creates a strong strategic and psychological component. Good players know how to give up bad hands early by knowing the probabilities and observing the other players, to keep losses low and to maximize profits.

In individual tournaments , such as the World Series of Poker , luck continues to play a role, as the betting structure forces relatively short games with few hands - now it is almost impossible for a player to prevail twice in a row.

Nevertheless, it was these tournaments, as well as the increasing spread of friendly poker rounds (first in the USA, now also in Europe) that made the strategic aspects of the game better known and made it socially acceptable. Recently, poker tournaments have been broadcast on television more and more often - this increases awareness and acceptance among the population. This is in the interests of the online poker providers, who co-finance both the tournaments and the television broadcasts.


Like almost every game that combines aspects of gambling with a stake of money, poker also carries the risk of addiction . The wide distribution and the simple rules give beginners the impression that it is not difficult to make a profit. This impression is supported by the apparently low stakes, especially in online casinos . The goal of the provider is to attract a potential player. Once in the game, the small bets can add up to considerable sums.

In general, the rule applies that the game operator receives a fixed proportion of each pot. If the game is long and even, this can mean that all players lose at the end of a session.

There is another danger, especially when playing online, namely the lack of any social control, be it from human players or casino employees.


Home games

A poker case for home games

This term refers to rounds of games by acquaintances or friends who play primarily for entertainment. In the USA in particular, friends and colleagues meet regularly to play. Poker takes a similar position here as Skat or Doppelkopf in Germany. In the wake of the poker boom in recent years, home games are becoming more popular in Germany. In home games, games are generally played for money, but mostly for significantly smaller amounts than is usual in casinos. In the private game rounds, different game variants are often played than in casinos. Draw poker is widespread . The rules of the game are often expanded to include special rules. A special form is that the dealer determines the game variant and the special rules for each new game. Through television broadcasts, Texas Hold'em has become a popular variant for home games.

Home games can be played in the tournament variant, the winner is the player who has won all the chips at the end, or as a cash game where shopping is possible if the chips have been lost.

Public poker rooms

Unlike in Germany, in some states of the USA , such as California , it is possible to offer a professional environment for playing poker without a gaming license. Tables with dealers for various types of poker are provided in these public poker rooms. The dealer shuffles and deals the cards, determines the winner and distributes the winnings. The public poker rooms are financed in the same way as casinos through a share of the pot, the so-called rake , which is collected by the dealer in each round. Alternatively, a certain amount of money is regularly collected from each player; this can be done at certain time intervals, e.g. Half an hour or when the player occupies a certain position, e.g. B. if he were actually giver. The same game variants are common in public poker rooms as in casinos, in the USA mainly Texas Hold'em and Seven Card Stud. As in casinos, certain behaviors in public poker rooms are good form. This includes the so-called toe . This is a tip for the giver in the event of a large win, as is customary in roulette with a plein .


The Kurhaus Wiesbaden , in whose former wine room the poker room is located

In Germany, casinos are the only legal providers of poker games for money. In the past poker was only offered in a few casinos, but now most of them also offer poker. They finance themselves just like the public poker rooms . The rules are also the same. Most casinos only offer a limited number of poker variants. For a long time, Seven Card Stud was the most common and sometimes the only variant offered in Europe. In the wake of the poker boom caused by television broadcasts, Texas Hold'em is also being offered more and more frequently. Casinos are the main providers of tournaments. All tournaments of the most important tournament series ( World Series of Poker , World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour ) are played in casinos. The World Series of Poker was held in Las Vegas, NV in Rio in 2007, the European Poker Tour in Casino Baden in September 2007. The cost of the donor and the premises are covered by a fee in addition to the stake that each player has to pay. The fee is usually 10 percent of the stake, but for small stakes the fees can be significantly higher. The prize money is paid from the stakes. In the meantime, there are amateur tournaments organized by various providers in several German cities in Germany. The games are played exclusively for prizes that are not financed from the entry fees of the players, but only through sponsors.

In Austria, poker, which has only been considered a game of chance here for a few years, has only been allowed in casinos since January 1, 2020, i.e. reserved for the state-owned Casinos Austria. Contrary to announcements, the legislature did not put out one's own poker license in the Gambling Act. Peter Zanoni has operated up to 13 poker casinos since 1993 - mostly in Austria and one each in Prague and Bratislava - through the companies CBA Spielapparate- und Restaurantbetriebs GmbH (until June 2015), Montesino and Concord Card Casinos (CCC Group). Zanoni fought unsuccessfully (decision of the VwGH as of February 2016) against the war victims tax of the state of Vorarlberg on the stake and sees an unequal treatment compared to Casinos Austria. The city of Bregenz continues to impose entertainment tax. At the beginning of February 2016 bankruptcy proceedings were opened via CBA, and Zanoni then continued to operate the casinos via the Montesino Group. Zanoni's concession (trade license) was only valid until the end of 2019. After raids, Zanoni closed its 12 companies in Austria on January 31, 2020, with which it generated annual sales of around 600 million euros with around 600 employees. The smaller competitors also closed at the turn of the year 2019/20. The offering of poker in Austria is linked to a casino license from 2020 and is therefore only reserved for Casinos Austria.

Online poker

In the age of computers and the Internet , playing poker over the Internet is also becoming increasingly popular. According to, at the beginning of 2007 a quarter of a million Germans regularly played poker against other human players on the computer. The reasons for that are complex. This makes it very easy, especially for beginners, to learn the rules and gain initial experience. Since almost all poker rooms also offer tables that are played for play money, there is also no risk of losing money against experienced players. Professional players, on the other hand, appreciate the opportunity to play at several tables at the same time and thus have the opportunity to optimize their average profit per hour. Furthermore, poker players are usually online at any time of the day, so you can almost always find players. Both aspects together mean that a player can play far more individual rounds per day in online poker than in casinos. This allows online gamers to catch up relatively quickly in terms of gaming experience compared to offline gamers, some of whom have been playing professionally for several decades. However, online poker also has some disadvantages. The big providers try to lure beginners and give them the impression that the game is very easy to learn. It is often emphasized that it is free of charge , but this only applies to play money tables, where the level of play is usually much lower than at real money tables. There is also the risk that the player will be isolated from his fellow human beings. Another point of criticism is that many aspects that distinguish poker from other card games are no longer available, such as the fact that the opponent's behavior with facial expressions and gestures cannot be read .

The provider is financed by keeping a portion of every pot above a certain size. This so-called rake is also common in casinos and ranges between 4 and 20 percent of the pot size. But there are also games for virtual play money. Many players use programs that run in parallel on their computers and give the player detailed information about statistical probabilities and sometimes relieve him of routine calculations. The stakes range from limits such as 2 cents to a big blind of $ 2,000 . The legality of online poker is questionable in many jurisdictions. German criminal law generally only permits games of chance to be operated with a corresponding license . Both offering (Section 284 of the Criminal Code) and participation (Section 285 of the German Criminal Code) in unauthorized games of chance are generally punishable, this also applies to online casinos.

Professional poker

A bracelet is the most recognized trophy in professional poker

There are specialists who make so much money playing poker that they can make a living from it. This means that these players have an hourly gain over long distances that is at least equal to the hourly wage of an employee. Particularly suitable game variants for professional poker are the forms in which many hands are played and the fees for the casino are low.

Sources of income

Many professional or semi-professional players earn most of their earnings from online poker. The reason for this is that the playing times can be divided up flexibly, since players are available at all times and the player is therefore not dependent on certain tournaments or cash games in casinos or less often in the private sector, which take place at a specific time. This makes it easier to plan the budget for the player. However, it is precisely because of the inability to observe and analyze the facial expressions, gestures and behavior of the opponents and to analyze them that the playful performance difference between the individual players is smaller. On the other hand, it is possible to play more hands per hour because you can play multiple tables at the same time and there are no waiting times caused by human dealers. As a professional player assumes that you have an advantage in principle, more hands per hour mean a higher profit per hour.

Most of the players who make their living playing poker specialize in cash games . This type of game has the advantage that the players have a larger stack relative to the blinds, which increases the complexity of the game and thus the win rates of good players. Another reason why cash games are often preferred is that the player can get out at any time and the playing times can therefore be designed more flexibly. In tournaments you often have to play for hours, larger live events even go on for days.

Only a few professional poker players are tournament players, as the luck factor is significantly higher in tournaments. This is because the relatively small stacks in relation to the blinds mean that few decisions can be made. On the other hand, the average tournament opponent is significantly worse than the average cash game opponent. Many tournament players do not earn their money from the tournament success, but from earnings from sponsorship agreements. This is also possible to a limited extent in online cash games.

In 2002 , 2003 , 2004 , 2005 and 2006 the Main Event , the main tournament of the World Series of Poker , was won by amateur players. This shows that especially in tournament play, the unknown players do not necessarily have to be inferior to the big poker stars during a single championship.

Major players

Bryn Kenney is one of the most successful tournament players in the world

The luck factor that comes with poker makes it difficult or even impossible to judge who is the world's best player, as no player plays perfectly at all times and it has so far not been possible to mathematically analyze most poker games or even just one Indicate approximate procedures for good decisions. Nevertheless, there is a certain number of players who have been able to draw attention to themselves over the years through particularly outstanding performances in certain areas.

Apart from that, there are only a small number of professional players who do not specialize in a particular game variant. Internationally, David "Chip" Reese from the United States has often been referred to as the best all-rounder, which was underlined by winning one of the most prestigious poker tournaments, the Poker Player's Championship , in which five poker variants are played alternately.

Measured by wins at the World Series of Poker , the American Phil Hellmuth is the most successful player. From 1989 to 2015 he won a total of 15 tournaments, which puts him ahead of Doyle Brunson , Johnny Chan and Phil Ivey , who each have ten tournament wins. However, Hellmuth has only celebrated two wins outside of his favorite Texas Hold'em discipline .

The most successful player by tournament revenue is Bryn Kenney , who has earned more than $ 55 million in his career. The most successful German player is Fedor Holz , who ranks eighth worldwide. The American Chris Moneymaker , who deposited $ 39 at PokerStars and made $ 2.5 million from it at the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event , was particularly important for online poker . This story has been widely used as an advertisement by PokerStars since then and sparked a poker boom.

Artificial intelligence

It was seen as a great challenge to create an artificial intelligence that could stand up to professional poker players. In the field of chess today, even PC programs on standard hardware can beat most players without any problems. What is beneficial for the computer is that chess is a game with complete information , that is, both parties to the game have all the information about the score. The ability of computers to calculate millions of possible train combinations in advance and to be able to call them up ahead of time is therefore usually superior to the human ability for abstract tactical thinking. In poker, however, the computer only knows its own cards. He must derive the strength of his hand from the opponent's betting behavior (which is not subject to fixed rules) , recognize bluffs and bet as advantageously as possible without becoming predictable, as predictable behavior can be exploited by the opponent. For these reasons, poker has become increasingly interesting to game theorists of late.

The poker game tree is considered unpredictable, as possible decisions would have to be calculated - more than atoms in the universe.


Victory of the machines

At the beginning of 2017, for the first time, two teams with "DeepStack" and "Libratus" - two differently designed AI programs - won the game "one-on-one" against professional players (in the tournament-standard variant Texas Hold'em Heads-Up No Limit , i.e. two players with two cards in hand each):

  • The artificial intelligence "DeepStack" (University of Alberta, University of Prague) based on deep learning initially played ten million poker games against itself. The neural network independently developed both bluffing and a kind of intuition, so that only seven game moves can be calculated in advance were to beat human players. In December 2016, 10 of the 11 professional players were outclassed in 3000 games. The program can be used on a laptop and is comparable to AlphaGo .
  • The Artificial Intelligence "Libratus" (Carnegie Mellon University) based on Counterfactual Regret Minimization determines the optimal move based on a heavily pruned decision tree. To do this, it needs a supercomputer; the program could also be readjusted manually after each game day. The best poker pro in comparison, i. H. with the least loss to the AI, Dong Kim, described the game against Libratus as "playing against someone who cheats as if it could see my cards".

Media use

Screenshot of the AGPL -licensed poker game PokerTH

Video poker

Video poker can be played in casinos on special machines, the one-armed bandits . The game is similar to the Five Card Draw variant, with the difference that money is wagered before the first five cards are received and that the cards can only be exchanged once. If you end up with at least a pair of jacks, the machine pays you money. Depending on the machine, the bank advantage is a little under two percent. The first machines were introduced in casinos in the mid-1970s, and a positive response subsequently supported further expansion. Small devices that can be used to play video poker are now also commercially available.

Video games

As a result of the poker boom, some computer and video games in which the user can play poker virtually have appeared in recent years . The quality of the opponent's artificial intelligence is particularly important. The most famous series, which was also published in Europe, is the World Series of Poker series from Activision .

watch TV

For some time now, poker broadcasts on television have been experiencing an upswing, which means that more and more tournaments are being held and also broadcast in Germany. Since tournaments played in the No Limit Texas Hold'em variant appeal to the largest target audience, formats are almost exclusively produced in this variant. The advantage of Texas Hold'em is that it is quick to learn for beginners and less complex than other variants. Another theory is that Texas Hold'em owes its popularity mainly to the fact that the luck factor is lowest in this variant.

During television broadcasts, the viewer sees the players' cards through special cameras integrated into the table . This allows them to watch professional players play their hands and have the opportunity to improve their own game. In addition, a probability is often displayed that indicates how high the chance a player is that he will win the current hand. It is assumed that all players hold their hand until the last card . In addition, a moderator comments on the various moves and the betting behavior in such a way that the statement is understandable even for beginners.

Sport1 mainly broadcasts poker programs on German television . In addition, German sports television (renamed Sport1 in April 2010) produced its own formats, such as the DSF Poker School , Online Show or DSF Poker Champion . In addition, the broadcaster ProSieben regularly organized poker nights as part of the TV total entertainment show , in which five celebrities and one online qualifier played for a total of € 100,000 in prize money.

Feature films, opera and ballet

In many North American feature films and television series, the actors host a game of poker. This is mainly done to underline the cliché of the average person and to take the action further. Examples include the sitcoms King of Queens and Malcolm in the Middle , as well as the television series Desperate Housewives and Spaceship Enterprise: The Next Century . This contrasts with feature films in which the game of poker is a central element of the storyline. Examples of this would be productions such as Rounders , Cincinnati Kid , Glück im Spiel , Maverick , Casino Royale or Bube, Dame, König, grass . In operas and ballet, too, poker scenes are occasionally shown in which the characters duel without a weapon instead of a fight. This is what happened in the ballet Jeu de Cartes by Igor Stravinsky and in the opera La fanciulla del West by Giacomo Puccini.


  • The rumor that Austria had classified poker as a game of skill is incorrect and probably stems from the fact that in 1995 the administrative court granted an objection that the tax authorities had to prove that Seven Card Stud was a game of chance, if necessary with an expert report. The Administrative Court of the Republic of Austria decided in 2005, based on a similar opinion, that poker and its game variants Seven Card Stud, Texas Hold'em and Five Card Draw are games of chance and therefore not games of skill, as the random character predominates.
  • Closely related to poker is the Styrian card game forty-one , which was also offered at times in some Austrian casinos .
  • Poker is used today in Italy to refer to four goals scored by a player in a football game .
  • The well-known phrase "I want to see" comes from Draw Poker and indicates that a player thinks his hand is good enough to beat the opponent's hand.

See also

Portal: Poker  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of poker
Wiktionary: Poker  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikibooks: Poker  - learning and teaching materials
Commons : Poker  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: Poker  - in the news


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Clemens Weidemann, Hans Schlarmann: The examination of predominant random dependence in gambling law - illustrated using the example of Hold'em poker and other card games, In: NVwZ - Extra 20/2014, p. 1ff., P. 2 ( pdf ); a. A. at least for certain variants: FG Cologne, judgment of October 31, 2012, 12 K 1136/11 (Texas Hold'em).
  2. The calculation of probability or the art of outsmarting luck. In: Jan Meinert: The Poker School. 1st edition. Knaur, 2007, ISBN 978-3-426-78018-3 , pp. 188ff.
  3. Texas Hold'em probabilities at:
  4. a b Why Texas Hold'em? In: Jan Meinert: The Poker School. 1st edition. Knaur, 2007, ISBN 978-3-426-78018-3 , p. 21.
  5. Barry Greenstein: Ace on the River . 1st edition. Last Knight Publishing, 2005, ISBN 0-9720442-2-1 , pp. 301ff. (Glossary)
  6. Jörg Bewersdorff gives an overview : Luck, Logic and Bluff: Mathematics in Play - Methods, Results and Limits. 5th edition. Vieweg + Teubner Verlag, 2010, ISBN 978-3-8348-0775-5 , pp. 252-263, 288-307, 310-317. doi: 10.1007 / 978-3-8348-9696-4
  7. John von Neumann: On the theory of parlor games. In: Mathematical Annals. Volume 100, 1928, pp. 295-320, cited at p. 320 ( Digi-Zeitschriften ).
  8. ^ John von Neumann, Oskar Morgenstern: Theory of games and economic behavior. Princeton Univ. Press., 1944, [1] (PDF; 31.6 MB), ISBN 978-0-691-13061-3 (2007), quoted from the German translation: Game theory and economic behavior. ISBN 3-7908-0134-8 , p. 190.
  9. ^ John Nash: Non-cooperative games. 1950, online version ( Memento from September 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 1.2 MB), pp. 17–20.
    John Nash: Non-cooperative games. In: Annals of Mathematics. Volume 54, 1951, pp. 293-294. (Poker model) ( JSTOR )
  10. Independent Chip Model on
  11. Jump up ↑ The Psychology of Poker. In: Jan Meinert: The Poker School. 1st edition. Knaur, 2007, ISBN 978-3-426-78018-3 , pp. 144ff.
  12. ^ Friedrich Kluge: Etymological dictionary of the German language . 24th edition. De Gruyter, Berlin 2002.
  13. ^ David Parlett : The Oxford Guide to Card Games .
  14. How do I organize a Texas Hold'em tournament / cash game. In: Jan Meinert: The Poker School. 1st edition. Knaur, 2007, ISBN 978-3-426-78018-3 , p. 37ff.
  15. Concord Card Casinos temporarily closed, January 31, 2020, accessed February 1, 2020.
  16. Bankruptcy: Tax regulation drives poker operator CCC into bankruptcy, February 8, 2016, accessed February 1, 2020.
  17. A quarter of a million Germans play poker regularly. ( Memento from August 20, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) on:
  18. ^ The Best Poker Player in the World. In: Barry Greenstein: Ace on the River . 1st edition. Last Knight Publishing, 2005, pp. 128ff.
  19. Barry Greenstein's analysis of David Reese ( Memento from December 1, 2008 in the Internet Archive )
  20. a b Eva Wolfangel: Artificial Intelligence: Computers bluff best. In: March 3, 2017, accessed March 7, 2017 .
  21. ^ The First Man-Machine Poker Championship , University of Alberta, 2007.
  22. ^ The Second Man-Machine Poker Competition , University of Alberta, 2008.
  23. Jump up Matej Morav, Martin Schmid, Neil Burch et al .: DeepStack: Expert-Level Artificial Intelligence in No-Limit Poker. Publication of the “DeepStack” development team in January 2017. In: Science, March 2017. Original from arxiv : 1701.01724 .
  24. ^ Cade Metz: Artificial Intelligence Is About to Conquer Poker - But Not Without Human Help. In: Wired. January 24, 2017, accessed on March 7, 2017 (English, "I felt like I was playing against someone who was cheating, like it could see my cards").