The Basics of Poker


Poker is a game of skill in which players attempt to form the best possible hand from five cards. The player with the highest-ranked hand wins the pot.

Poker games vary widely in rules and structure. However, most variants share several essential characteristics.

In a basic poker game, each player is dealt two personal cards and five community cards (called the “flop”). The dealer deals the flop facedown to all of the players and acts first by folding or calling; if no other player folds, the big blind can call or raise.

The player in the small blind or player to his left still in the hand is then dealt a third card, which they may use to make a bet. Typically, these bets are called antes or blinds and are forced by one or more players.

Players can bet or raise based on their expectation of the outcome of the hand and/or their intent to bluff. The amount of the bet is not placed directly into the pot (“splashing the pot”), but rather a chip is placed in front of each player toward the pot.

Become familiar with the different betting patterns of the various players at your table. Some players are more conservative and do not bet as much, while others are aggressive and often make large bets early on. Being aware of these differences can help you make better decisions and increase your winnings.