The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players place bets (called chips) into a central pot based on their belief that they have the best hand. In many cases, players may also bluff in an attempt to win the pot. The outcome of any given hand is largely determined by chance, but long-term expectations are influenced by the decisions made by individual players on the basis of probability theory, psychology, and game theory.

Each player begins by putting in a forced bet (either an ante or a blind bet). The dealer then shuffles the cards, and the player to his right cuts. The dealer then deals each player a number of cards, face up or down, depending on the game variant. A betting interval, called a street, then begins. Each player must either “call” the amount of chips being put into the pot by the player to his left, or raise that bet. If a player declines to do this, he discards his hand and is said to drop or fold; he may no longer compete for the pot.

A poker hand consists of five cards. A full house consists of three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another. A straight consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit. A flush consists of five cards that skip around in rank but are all from the same suit. A pair consists of two cards of the same rank, and a high pair is four of a kind or better.