The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players try to make the best hand out of a combination of cards. There are a variety of different variations of the game, but all share certain basic features.

The Rules of Poker

In standard poker, the first betting round begins with one player making a forced bet called an ante. This bet is usually a small amount, such as one unit or a proportion of the minimum amount in play (a “chip”).

Once the ante has been placed, each player in turn may make a voluntary bet, which is called an open bet. Depending on the rules of the game, players can also fold and lose any bets they have made so far.

The first betting round ends when each player has either “called” the maximum previous bet or folded. If no player “calls” the bet, the hand ends and the bettor is awarded the pot.

Bluffing is a common tactic in poker, especially against opponents who hold superior hands. If a bluff is successful, it can win the hand and cause other opponents to call the bet.

High Cards and Ties

The highest possible hand is a Royal Flush, which is five cards in the same suit, and contains an ace high. However, an ace may be low or high, and straights may not “wraparound” (for example, AKQJT beats KQJT9 down to 5432A). When two straights have the same value, they split the pot; the same is true for pairs, three of a kind, flushes and full houses.