The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game with wagering in which players place chips (representing money) into a pot. The player with the highest-ranking hand wins the pot. The game may be played by any number of players, but the ideal number is six to eight. Each player receives two personal cards and five community cards. The values of a poker hand are in inverse proportion to their mathematical frequency, so the more unusual the combination, the higher the hand rank. Players may also bluff, placing bets that they have a superior hand when they don’t. This is called a bluff, and it can win the pot if players with better hands call the bet.

There are a number of different poker games, and the rules vary by them. However, there are some basic principles that apply to all of them. For example, the highest hand is a royal flush (A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit), followed by four of a kind (four cards of the same number/picture); three of a kind; straight; and pairs. The highest pair breaks ties (i.e., a pair of sevens beats a pair of sixes).

In most poker games, the first player to act has the option or obligation to open betting. Players must then place enough chips into the pot to make their contribution at least equal to that of the player before them. They may raise their bets at any time during the betting interval, and can fold if they don’t want to continue playing.