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Poker Championships Return to Saint Martin

Poker fans will be excited to learn a World Series of Poker Circuit Tournaments (WSOPC) event takes place at Casino Royale in St Maarten, November 3-16, 2016.

This is part of a larger tour with eight tournaments, nine ring events, and a guaranteed prize pool of the main event is $250,000.

This is the biggest poker event in the entire Caribbean, and it’s taking place just on the other side of the island from us, on Maho Beach.

We thought we would take a look at the game of poker and provide a brief overview of this fascinating game.

saint martin poker festival

Poker—the basics

Where did it start?

As early as the Sixteenth Century, Germans played a bluffing game called Pochen. This game was later refined by the French, into a game they called “Poque.” Poque would be eventually brought over to New Orleans and played on the riverboats that traveled up and down the Mississippi River.

In the 1830s, the game was refined further and became known as Poker.


What are the basic rules?

Poker is played using a standard pack of 52 playing cards.

The cards are ranked from high to low: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and Ace.

playing cards

Ace can be high or low, but are usually high. There are four suits—spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs—and no suit is higher than another.

All poker hands contain five cards (or sometimes seven), the highest hand wins.


Basic “hands”

Poker is played using sets of five playing cards, called hands, according to the rules of the game being played. Each hand has a rank, which is compared against the ranks of other hands to determine who wins the pot.

Here are a few basic hands:

Five of a Kind

This is the highest possible hand and can occur only in games where at least one card is wild, such as a joker, the two one-eyed jacks, or the four deuces. Examples of five of a kind would be four 10s and a wild card or two queens and three wild cards.

Straight Flush

This is the highest possible hand when only the standard pack is used, and there are no wild cards. A straight flush consists of five cards of the same suit in sequence, such as 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 of hearts. The highest-ranking straight flush is the A, K, Q, J, and 10 of one suit, and this combination has a special name: a royal flush.

Four of a Kind

This is the next highest hand, and it ranks just below a straight flush. An example is four aces or four 3s. It does not matter what the fifth, unmatched card is.

Full House

This hand is made up of three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank, such as three 8s and two 4s, or three aces and two 6s.



Five cards, all of the same suit, but not all in sequence, is a flush. An example is Q, 10, 7, 6, and 2 of clubs.


Five cards in sequence, but not all of the same suit is a straight. An example is 9♥, 8♣, 7♠, 6♦, 5♥.

Three of a Kind

This combination contains three cards of the same rank, and the other two cards each of a different rank, such as three jacks, a seven, and a four.

Two Pairs

This hand contains a pair of one rank and another pair of a different rank, plus any fifth card of a different rank, such as Q, Q, 7, 7, 4.

One Pair

This frequent combination contains just one pair with the other three cards being of different rank. An example is 10, 10, K, 4, 3.

No Pair

This very common hand contains “nothing.” None of the five cards pair up, nor are all five cards of the same suit or consecutive in rank.

poker chips


Poker is a gambling game, and players must bet or ‘ante’ something to buy in. After that players bet into the pot in the middle. At the end of the hand, the highest hand (that hasn’t folded) wins the pot.

When it comes to betting, there are three choices:


When you call, you bet enough to match what has been bet since the last time you bet (for instance, if you bet a dime last time, and someone else bet a quarter, you would owe fifteen cents).


When you raise, you first bet enough to match what has been bet since the last time you bet (as in calling), then you ‘raise’ the bet another amount (up to you, but there is typically a limit.)


When you fold, you drop out of the current hand, but you don’t have to put any money into the pot.

Betting continues until everyone calls or folds after a raise or initial bet.

Two types of Poker everyone should know

While Poker is played in many different forms, any player who understands the values of the Poker hands and the principles of betting can play basically any type of Poker game.

There are two types of basic poker:

  • Stud Poker
  • Draw Poker

The rules for these games are almost identical, except for one important difference.


Stud Poker

Each player is dealt five cards (or sometimes seven. Players then assess the relative strength of their hands and make a wager.

The player who bids the most chips wins unless someone else is willing to match the player’s bet. In that scenario, the two (or more) players remaining will show their cards. The best hand wins all the chips.

Draw Poker

Each player is dealt five cards, and a round of betting ensues. The remaining players then may attempt to improve their hands by trading as many as three cards for a new three from the deck.

More Details About World Series of Poker Circuit Tournament on St. Martin (November 3-16)

So, if you’d like to try out or simply watch Poker, there will be a great opportunity to do so over two weeks from November 3 to 16, 2016 at Casino Royale on the “Dutch side” of St. Martin.

Casino Royale is the largest casion on St Maarten, with nearly 21,000 square feet of gaming.

If you want to attend the championships, keep in mid:

  • Dress code is more relaxed than usual but should still be proper for the casino
  • Players must be minimum 18
  • The casino is open from 1pm to 4am, the poker room is opened from 3pm to 6am every day

More details can be found here.

Some images in this post are public domain, and were found on Pixabay.