The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game where players compete to form the best hand possible. The highest-ranking hand wins the pot, which is usually a sum of money that every player put into the pot before the game begins.

The game is played from a standard pack of 52 cards, but some variant games use multiple packs or add a few cards called jokers. The cards are ranked from high to low, with Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.

Before the cards are dealt, each player must place a small amount of cash in a pot called an ante or blind bet. This is often a fixed amount of money, but it can also be a percentage of the pot.

In poker, players must form the best hand possible, which is comprised of a combination of their own hole cards (also known as pocket cards) and community cards. The best hands include a Royal Flush (10-Jack-Queen-King-Ace of the same suit), Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flash, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair and One Pair.

Getting Started

In most poker games, the first player to the left of the dealer is called the “dealer” and deals cards face up. The dealer then passes the turn to the next player in line, and so on, until each player is dealt a hand.

After each deal, players can bet or raise by placing chips in the pot equal to the previous player’s bet or raise. They can also fold, which means that they remove their entire hand and discard it, or they can drop out of the betting.

Betting Intervals

Each betting interval, or round, starts when a player to the left makes a bet. They must then call the bet by placing in the same number of chips; or raise the bet by putting in more than enough chips to call; or fold, which means that they remove all their chips from the pot and discard their hand.

The betting interval ends when all of the bets have been equalized and a “showdown” has taken place. After this, each remaining player shows their hand face up on the table and the winner of the hand takes the pot.

How to Play

The game of poker is played from a standard deck of cards, which are shuffled before each hand. The shuffled decks are dealt in rotation to the left, one card at a time. The players can shuffle their own cards as well, but this is not common in professional tournaments.

A player may choose to bluff or fold at any time during the game, but it is most often done during the betting intervals when weaker hands are likely to be forced out of the pot. The bluffing player may use a sleight of hand or other techniques to convince the other players that they have a strong hand.