The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players bet against each other in order to improve their hands. The goal is to make the best possible hand and win the pot, which is the sum of all bets made in any one deal.

The cards used in the game are standard 52-card packs, with four of each card and four suits (hearts, spades, clubs, diamonds). Most games are played with chips, which stand in for money. This is for two reasons: firstly, it’s easier to count, stack, and keep track of, and secondly, it’s much more psychologically appealing than cash.

Players begin each hand by putting an initial contribution, called a “blind bet,” into the pot. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them out, one at a time, to each player in turn.

During each betting interval, the player to the left of the first player must either “call” that bet by putting into the pot exactly the same number of chips as the player before them; or “raise,” which means putting into the pot more than enough chips to call. Alternatively, the player can “drop” (“fold”) by putting no chips into the pot, discarding their hand, and dropping out of the betting until the next deal.

After a player has put in all the chips that they’re willing to put into the pot, the betting interval ends and the players collect their winnings. The next betting interval is begun and each player must make a bet of at least as many chips as the previous player.