The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which each player is dealt five cards and then bets on the outcome of their hand. The highest hand wins the pot. While poker does involve some element of chance, over time the application of skill can virtually eliminate luck’s variance.

Each player begins the game with a fixed amount of chips (representing money, for which the game is almost always played) that they must place in the pot before their turn. Each player may then choose to raise or call that bet, or drop. Then a series of betting intervals begin, as dictated by the rules of the particular poker variant being played.

At the end of each betting interval, the players who still have their hands show them face up on the table and the winner is declared. This is called the “showdown.”

During the deal, each player will typically place a forced bet, either an ante or a blind bet. The dealer then shuffles the deck and cuts it. The player on the player’s left then takes his or her turn to bet.

If the player does not want to call the current bet, he or she may say “raise,” and each of the players to his or her right must then decide whether to raise in return or fold. This process continues until all of the bets are equalized or a player drops. Practice and watch others play to develop quick instincts.