The Basics of Poker


The game of poker is a card game played by two or more players. The object of the game is to win money by having the highest ranked hand when all the cards are revealed. The winner is awarded the pot – all of the bets placed during the hand. The players can either raise the stakes or “check” (pass on their turn to act).

Each player has two hidden cards called hole cards, and uses them together with the community cards to form a hand of five. A royal flush has all five cards of the same rank. A straight contains five consecutive cards of the same suit (but can include other suits as well). Three of a kind contains three cards of the same rank. Two pair contains two cards of the same rank, plus one card of another rank (and no unmatched cards). The rank of a pair is determined by comparing the ranks of the two cards.

Unlike most card games where the player’s actions are forced by chance, poker involves a substantial amount of skill and psychology when betting is involved. Players place bets into the pot when they believe that the bet has a positive expected value or for other strategic reasons.

The initial betting intervals in a hand are determined by the rules of the particular variant being played. Typically the player to the left of the dealer must first place a bet (these are sometimes called blind bets, since they must be made before the player sees their cards). After this player can raise the stakes or call a bet. Betting continues until all players either fold, raise or check.