The Basics of Poker



Poker is a card game where players place bets to win a pot consisting of a combination of cards. Although the outcome of any particular hand involves a significant element of chance, long-run expectations are determined by player decisions made on the basis of probability, psychology, and game theory. Players may also bluff, betting that they have a superior hand when they do not. If other players call the bluff, the player with the superior hand wins the pot.

To begin, each player must place an ante (a sum of money representing chips) into the pot. When the betting cycle comes around to you, say “call” if you wish to raise the ante and add your chips into the pot. You must make your decision quickly since betting continues until all players have folded or called the same amount.

Once all players have called, the remaining cards are flipped face up and the winning player is declared. The following is a list of the basic Poker hands:

High Pair – Two distinct pairs of cards plus a fifth card that breaks ties

Straight – Five consecutive cards that skip around in rank or sequence but are all from one suit

Three of a Kind – three cards of the same rank

A Full House – Two matching pairs of cards plus an unmatched third card

Flush – Five cards of the same suit

Two Pairs – Two sets of two cards of the same rank

Note that if you have two distinct pairs, you are tied with the player who has the highest ranking fourth card. High Card – A single card of the highest rank breaks ties if no one has a pair or better.