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Players, Dealers, Decks, Chips and Hand Rankings
Players, Dealers, and Decks

Online or off, most casino poker games consist of eight to ten players plus a dealer (although Internet poker also offers lots of designated shorthanded games). The dealer - whether human or programming function - wagers no money and gets no hand to play, but is simply there to run the games, deal the cards, and push pots to winning players. Additionally, the dealer must randomly shuffle the cards so the deal will be fair.
While human casino dealers are professionals who take pride in their work, they're no match for computers in some respects. In Internet poker, the games software executes a far more random shuffle and far more rapid deal than even the very finest house dealers can achieve.
For Internet poker - as for casino poker in general - the deck is a standard 52-card deck. Games involving a joker are rare not only in Internet cash games, but also in the complimentary play-money games found at leading online poker sites. By the same token, wild cards are seldom used. If you've been playing mostly in home poker games, this may be a big adjustment for you.

Chips

At home you can bet with pennies or peanuts, but chips are used in all casinos, whether in geo-space or cyberspace. Internet games use virtual chips rather than physical chips, but outside of play-money games, they nevertheless represent real cash to be won or lost.
Therefore, in order to play in an online money games, you'll have to deposit funds with the online poker casino of your choice. Once you have money on deposit, you've created what's essentially a debit account. From it you purchase virtual chips as needed.
If you want to start out with a play-money game, it's even easier. You won't have to deposit funds at all; the casino will simply give you a starting stash of play money so you can jump right into a game and start playing. Oops, lose your original allotment? Most Internet card rooms simply give you more play money whenever you run out, so relax and have fun!

Hand Rankings (Poker Basics - Hand Rankings)

Rankings of Low Hands in Split-Pot Games

The best low hand composed of five unpaired cards with a rank of eight or lower, captures half of the pot when you're playing Omaha/8 or 7-stud/8. A hand like 7?6?5?3?2?, beats 8?5?4?2?A?, but loses to 7?5?4?2?A?.
The worst possible qualifying low hand is 8-7-6-5-4, while the best low hand - called a wheel or a bicycle - is 5-4-3-2-A. A wheel can be tied; in which case all players holding wheels split the low end of the pot, but it can't be beaten. Because a wheel is also a five-high straight, it stands a good chance of being the best high hand as well as the best low hand. If it is, and it's the only wheel, the proud holder of that wheel scoops the entire pot.
Figuring out the best low hand can take some practice. Just begin with the highest of the low cards and continue in descending order. In Omaha you must use exactly two cards from your hand and exactly three from the five community cards to form your best five-card low hand. Remember, you need five different ranks to have a low hand.
In 7-stud/8, your low hand (if you have one) is the five lowest cards of different ranks from the seven you've been dealt. In virtually all Internet games, all must be of the eighth rank or lower.


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