The Basics of Poker


Poker is a game of cards in which players place bets into a pot in order to win the hand. The game is played with a dealer and a fixed number of players. Each player puts in a small amount of money (the ante, which varies by game; at our games it’s a nickel) and then is dealt two cards face down. The betting then begins with the person to the left of the dealer. Each player may say “call” to bet the same amount as the person before them, or they may raise their bet. Players may also fold their cards, thereby forfeiting any bets they have made.

In poker, the highest hand wins. A poker hand consists of five cards and has a value in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency (the rarer the card, the higher the hand). Players may also bluff by placing a bet that they do not have the best hand, which can sometimes win if players with superior hands call their bets.

It is important to have a balanced style of play in poker, including some bluffing and some solid high-quality hands. You want to be able to conceal the strength of your hands as much as possible, because if other players know exactly what you have in your hand they will almost always make a big bet. You can often improve your hand by hitting the flop, or “the board,” with the right cards (for example, hitting hearts on the flop when you have pocket aces). This is known as making a nut.