Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players bet on the chances of forming a particular hand. The game can be played by two or more players and the goal is to win the pot, which is the sum of all bets made in a given deal. There are countless variants of poker, but most of them share certain basic features.

Generally, a poker hand consists of five cards. There are four suits (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs) and the rank of each suit is determined by its mathematical frequency: Ace high, King low, Queen low, Jack high and 10 low. The highest hand wins. A player may also bluff by betting that he has the best hand when he does not; this is called a “spot.” If other players call the bet, the bluffing player wins the pot.

In most games, each player must put in a forced bet (the amount varies by game) before being dealt cards. Once this bet is placed, players are dealt cards that they keep hidden from their opponents. In some games, there is an additional bet known as the “blind” that players must make before being dealt cards. In either case, these bets go into a central pot that is shared by all active players at the table.

Once the cards are dealt, the first of several betting rounds begins. The player on the left of the dealer button (or the position directly to the right of it) has the first opportunity to raise a bet. He can do so by saying “I open,” or simply raising the ante by a predetermined amount. The player to his right then has the option of calling or raising his own bet, or folding his hand.

Then the flop is revealed, and the value of each hand starts to take shape. A player should only continue to bet if he feels that his hand has the best chance of winning against other hands. Otherwise, it is usually better to fold, as the odds of drawing to a better hand are much less than the risk of losing.

After the flop, the community cards are revealed. Then it is possible to make a combination of five cards that can beat any other hand. If more than one hand has five of a kind, the higher-ranking hand wins (five aces beats five kings, for example). A royal flush is an exceptionally strong hand and is a good target for a bluff.