The Basics of Poker



Poker is a card game in which players bet chips (representing money) into a pot to make a hand. The highest hand wins. Poker games vary in rules and strategy, but there are some universal basics that all poker players must master.

One of the first steps to becoming a better poker player is learning how to read other players and watch for “tells,” or unconscious habits that reveal information about a person’s cards. Tells can include anything from fiddling with a chip or ring to body language or gestures. Being able to spot tells will allow you to play more accurately against opponents and improve your overall win rate.

To begin a hand, the dealer deals three cards face-down to each player and the himself. Then, the players decide whether to stay in the hand. If a player wants to continue, they place chips in the pot equal to or higher than the bet of the last player before them (called calling).

Then they look at their cards and compare hands. A high card usually beats any other hand, but ties are broken by the highest unmatched card or secondary pair in a full house (three of a kind and two pairs). Poker also includes wild cards that can take on any suit and rank (dueces or one-eyed jacks). This makes poker a game of skill rather than chance, because the best players will always win in the long run.