It is best for the beginner to learn one type of poker game first, then the other variants, one by one. The main types of poker game are two: draw poker game and stud poker game. In draw poker game, all cards are dealt face down. In stud poker game, a poker player receives one or more cards face down and his other cards face up. (This does not clearly determine his hand for the other players; for suppose a player has two queens, a six and a four, face up, and one card face down. Without knowing what his face-down card is, you cannot tell how good his hand is. If it is a queen, it gives him three queens; if it is a six or a four, it gives him two pairs; if it is any other card, he has only a pair of queens.)
Whether you are playing $1 limit poker game at the kitchen table or pot limit poker game at the Stardust in Las Vegas, whether you are playing poker for fun or for a living, once a week or every day, you have to understand that the object of the game is to make money. That's where the profits are. That's where the fun is. That's the way the poker game is scored. Jack Straus, 1982 poker champion, has said he'd bust his own grandmother if she was in a pot with him, which is pretty much the only attitude a serious poker player can have when he or she sits down behind a stack of chips. Whatever the environment and whoever your opponents happen to be, you must play the game tough; you must play the game to win money. That does not mean you cannot joke or socialize, whether at the kitchen table or in a Las Vegas card room. Quite to the contrary. In a public card room people seem to mind losing their money to a sociable person less than losing it to a mole. However, when the cards are dealt, you are no longer a grandson, a friend, or a nice guy; you are a player.
In draw poker game, each player is dealt five cards. Then there is a betting interval. After this, each active poker player may discard any of his cards and the dealer gives him other cards to replace them (called the draw). There is then a second betting interval, after which there is a showdown among the active players, and the highest hand takes the pot.
To say a poker player is out to make money does not necessarily mean he is out to win pots. Of course, you can't win money without winning pots, but attempting to win every pot or too many pots is a losing proposition. If you win $100 in one pot but lose $120 trying to win four others, you have a net loss of $20. You may occasionally be in a game where the best strategy is to win as many pots as possible, but such games are exceptions. In most games the bets you save are as important as the bets you win, because your real goal is to maximize your wins and minimize your losses. Ideally you want the pots you win to be as big as possible and the pots you lose to contain nothing more than your ante. You must remember that reducing losses by not making the calls, for example, that a weaker player would make adds that much more to your win when the game is over.
In stud poker game, each poker player is dealt one card face down, called his hole card, then one card face up. There is then a betting interval, after which each active player is dealt another face-up card. Another betting interval, another round of face-up cards; another betting interval, and a final round of face-up cards. Each round of new cards is dealt only to players who have not dropped. Each of these players now has a full five card poker hand, with one card face down and the other four face up. There is a final betting interval, and then a showdown in which each active player turns up his hole card and the highest hand takes the pot.