How to Play Poker


Poker is a card game where players compete to make the best five-card hand. The game can be played by two to fourteen people, though the ideal number is six to eight. In some variants, the players have a fixed amount of money to spend on betting each hand. Those bets accumulate to form the pot, which is won by the player with the highest-ranking poker hand or by making a bet that no one else calls.

When a player’s turn to act comes, they must either call (match the amount of the last bet) or raise it. When a player raises he must put at least as many chips in the pot as the person to his left. Alternatively, he may choose to “drop”—meaning that he puts no chips in the pot and passes on his turn.

Some players prefer to play a loose, aggressive style. These players may win more hands, but they are also more likely to lose them. A balanced approach is better, as is mixing up your style to confuse opponents and improve your bluffing odds.

In some poker games, the players establish a fund called a “kitty.” They build this up by cutting one low-denomination chip from each pot where there has been more than one raise. When the game ends, any chips in the kitty are distributed evenly among the players who are still in it. This money is used for things like paying for new decks of cards and food and drinks.