The Basics of Poker


Poker is a family of card games in which players wager over the value of a hand. Hands consist of five cards, and the best five-card combination wins according to each variant’s rules. The game is usually played with an ante and one or more rounds of betting, and may have a number of side pots.

There are many forms of poker, each with its own rules and strategies. Some of the most popular variations include Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud. Each of these has a slightly different variation on the basic game, but most share certain core principles, such as the standard hand ranking system and the use of a bet structure.

During the betting phase of a hand, each player places a bet into a common pool, or “pot,” that represents all bets made by all active players. Each player has the option to raise his own bet, and each raise must be at least equal in amount to the bet placed by the player before him.

After the betting phase, all players reveal their hands and evaluate them. The winning player takes the pot, which is awarded to the best hand according to the variant’s rules. There are ten possible poker hands, each ranked by its mathematical frequency: a straight is a sequence of five consecutive cards of the same suit (such as 5-6-7-8-9), while a flush is a sequence of three or more cards of the same suit (such as A-K-Q-J-T). A pair beats all other hand types except a full house and a straight.