The Basics of Poker



Poker is a card game in which players place bets on the relative strength of their hands. There are many variants of poker, but all involve betting. The object of the game is to win the pot, which is the sum of all bets made in a hand. A high-scoring hand usually wins, but bluffing can also be effective.

Poker can be played by two or more people, and each player has a fixed number of chips to invest in the hand. The chips are placed in a pile in front of each player, called the pot. When it is a player’s turn to act, he must either match or raise the previous player’s bet, or fold his hand.

If a player chooses to fold, he forfeits his rights in the current pot and surrenders them to the next player whose bet he calls. This creates a side pot, which may contain a different set of winnings.

The highest ranking hand in poker is a royal flush (A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit), followed by four of a kind (3 matching cards of one rank plus 2 matching cards of another); straight flush (5 cards in consecutive order, but not all of the same suit); three of a kind; and pair (2 identical cards).

In some games, players contribute an amount of money to the pot before each deal, called an ante. This is in addition to the blind bet, which is mandatory for all players to make.