The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game involving betting, and can be played by two or more players. The aim of the game is to win a pot, or the sum total of all bets placed during a hand. Although the game involves chance, it also has elements of skill and psychology. A good poker player will be able to estimate the chances of other players’ hands and make bets accordingly.

Each player places a forced bet into the pot (usually an ante or a blind bet). The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals each player one at a time, beginning with the player to his or her left. The player may check, call, raise, or fold his or her hand.

Once all bets are placed, the remaining players reveal their hole cards and a winner is determined according to the official poker hand rankings. Players may also choose to expose a portion of their hand before the flop for strategic reasons. Those who do this are known as bluffs. Classic tells in poker include shallow breathing, sighing, nostril flaring, eye blinking excessively, and an increasing pulse seen in the neck or temple.

The rank of standard poker hands is determined by their odds (probability). When two or more hands have the same rank, the highest unmatched cards break ties. In some games that include wild cards, the rank of a four of a kind is determined by the highest suit; if the suits are equal, ties are broken by high card rules.