The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game played by two or more players. The object is to win the pot, which is the total amount of bets placed during any deal. The highest-ranking hand wins the pot, although some games have wild cards or other special rules that can change the outcome of a hand. The game may be played with any number of players, but six to eight is a common arrangement.

A standard deck of 52 cards is used for poker, with the exception that some games use multiple packs or additional cards called jokers. The cards are ranked (from high to low) A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2. There are four suits — spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs — but no suit is higher than another.

At the start of a game, one player, designated by the rules of the particular poker variant being played, has the privilege or obligation to make the first bet. Each player in turn must either “call” that bet by placing into the pot at least as many chips as the previous player did, or raise it.

Raises usually involve increasing the current open bet by at least one chip, but players may also raise by multiple chips at once. When a player has a strong hand, it is often advantageous to raise the bet in order to force weaker hands out of the pot or increase the overall value of the pot.