The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players bet by placing chips representing money into a central pot. The rules of the game vary depending on the variant of poker being played. Some poker variants require all players to place a forced bet, usually referred to as an ante or blind bet. Others do not have these forced bets and a player may choose to check instead of calling the bet of the player before him. When a player chooses to call the bet of the previous player, he must place an amount in the pot equal to or greater than his total stake. The player who has the best 5-card hand wins all of the money placed into the pot.

When playing poker, each player is dealt two cards (known as his or her “hand”) and five community cards are then shared by all of the players in the circle. Each player aims to make the best possible 5-card hand using their own two cards and the community cards. This is done by making a “flush” [five consecutive cards of the same suit], a “straight” [five in a row of the same suit] or a “high card” [a high value card].

While the game of poker involves considerable chance, many important strategic decisions are made by players on the basis of probability, psychology and game theory. For example, a player who knows the probability that he will receive a spade can correctly estimate how much of a raise he must make to remain in the pot after all players have revealed their hands.