The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game played by a group of players. Each player contributes a sum of money, called chips, to the pot and then competes against other players for the pot. The player with the best hand wins the pot. A player may also choose to fold his or her cards and abandon the hand.

To begin a hand of poker, one or more players must place forced bets, which are known as the ante and blind bets, into the pot. The dealer then shuffles the cards and cuts off a portion of the deck, known as the button. The dealer then deals the cards to each player, one at a time, starting with the player to his or her left. The cards can be dealt either face-up or face-down, depending on the variant of poker being played.

The cards are then arranged into hands according to their rank. A pair of cards has two cards of the same rank, three of a kind has 3 cards of the same rank, four of a kind has 4 cards of the same rank, and a flush is five consecutive cards of the same suit. High cards break ties in these hands.

When betting comes around to the player, he or she can choose to call (match the previous bet) or raise (increase the amount of the bet). To do so, he or she must place in the pot enough chips (representing money, for which poker is almost always played) to match or exceed the total contribution made by the player before him. If the player chooses to raise, he or she must then match the bets of all other players still in the pot before his or her turn.

While many new poker players stick to a strict range of starting hands, experienced players know that this approach will not lead to long-term success. They need to improve their range and start playing more hands in order to win more pots.

Using the correct poker terms can make communication at the table easier and faster. In addition to the names of the different poker hands, there are several other poker terms that are important to learn, such as:


While it is important to play your own cards well in poker, it is equally important to use your knowledge of the opponents to your advantage. Knowing the tendencies of your opponents can help you to predict what type of bets they will make and when they are likely to fold.

When learning poker, it is essential to find a good book to study. There are numerous books available on poker strategy, and a great deal of advice can be found online. However, be careful when following cookie-cutter advice, as each situation at a table is unique.