The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game played by two or more players. It can be played socially, for pennies or matchsticks, or professionally, for thousands of dollars. It requires a great deal of luck and a lot of skill.

The basic rules of the game vary from one variant to another, but all involve cards and chips. Each player puts an initial contribution to the pot (representing money) in turn, known as the ante. This may be followed by one or more betting intervals, depending on the specific game. If a player has no wish to participate in a betting interval, they must “drop” or fold their hand and forfeit any chips they have put into the pot.

Each player must try to minimize their losses with poor hands and maximize their winnings with good ones. This entails knowing the strength of other players’ hands and reading tells such as body language, expressions and eye movements.

Each poker hand consists of five cards. A full house is made up of three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another; a flush contains five consecutive cards of the same suit; and a straight consists of five consecutive cards in different suits but of the same rank. During the betting intervals, each player must place a bet according to how much they believe their hand is worth. They may also bluff, hoping that other players will call their bet and expose their inferior hands.