How to Write a Poker Scene
Poker is a card game in which players place bets on the outcome of a hand. It is often played with a minimum of two people and the object of the game is to make the best five-card poker hand. The current most popular poker game is Texas hold’em, which uses what are called community cards that are available to all players in order to form a winning hand.
To begin a hand of poker, each player receives one card face down (his hole cards) and one card face up. There are then several betting intervals and a showdown at the end of the game. In the showdown, each player must reveal his hole cards to the other players in order to determine a winner.
As you’re writing scenes of poker, it’s important to use the five elements of plot conflict — Exposition (beginning of the hand, feeling each other out), Rising Action, In-Play Action and Out-Of-Play Action. Specifically, focus on character reaction to the cards that are dealt. Who flinched, who smiled, who bet big? The more details you include, the better.
It’s also important to keep in mind that players should build up their comfort with risk-taking gradually, rather than just jumping in headfirst and trying to win the big pots from the get-go. After all, it’s not uncommon for a new player to fold when they have a premium opening hand, like a pair of Kings or Aces, because they are afraid that they will lose their money.