The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game of chance and strategy. Players put money into a pot (called the pot) and then bet on their hands. The player with the best hand wins. Players may also bluff, trying to make others think they have a good hand, in order to get them to call or raise their bets.

Cards are dealt in a series of rounds, each requiring a bet. The player to the left of the dealer opens the betting. Players can fold after a certain number of rounds, or after raising another player’s bet by an agreed amount. If everyone else folds, remaining players participate in a showdown where they reveal their cards. The player with the highest-ranking poker hand wins the pot.

In standard poker, the highest hand is five of a kind (all tens, jacks, queens or kings of one suit). Four of a kind beats any straight, and ties are broken by higher unmatched cards or secondary pairs. There are exceptions, however, when the game uses wild cards like the joker or bug (which count as a fifth ace in some hands and as an additional card in certain other combinations).

When playing a cash game, players typically have to place forced bets before being dealt a hand. These bets are called ante and blind bets. A player can raise his or her own bet by a given amount, or can check. If a player checks, they pass on the opportunity to act and wait for their turn again.