The Basics of Poker


Poker is a family of card games played with cards and chips. Each game has different rules, but the fundamental concept is the same: the goal is to have the best hand at the end of the game. The game is typically played with a standard deck of cards, although some variants use shorter packs.

Poker games vary in their deck configuration, number of cards dealt face up or face down and number of players, but all share rules that involve one or more rounds of betting. Before the deal, each player may be required to place a fixed amount of money or chips into the pot, called an ante; this is usually a one-value unit or a proportion such as half or quarter of the minimum bet.

The first betting round begins with the person with the highest-ranking poker combination in his faceup cards making the first bet, and then is repeated until a player checks (stays in without betting) or the last bettor raises. In some variants, a player who has not made a previous bet in the current round is permitted to make an “eventual” bet; this can be a bet that is higher than the last one made, but must be equal to or less than the highest one made.

In most poker games, a player must call the first bet that is placed by another player; this is also known as matching a bet, a requirement that must be met by all players in-turn. The only exception is in games of high table stakes, where a player may pass or fold (but cannot call a lower amount) if they have not paid an ante.

A player who does not have enough chips to call the bet must fold; they are not allowed to re-raise when they are folding. This is because the player does not have sufficient funds to keep playing if they do not call the bet.

Unlike other games of chance, a player’s odds of winning depend on their hand; they have a better hand if the pot is larger than what it would cost them to call, and they have a worse hand if the pot is smaller than what it would cost them to call. It is common to raise a bet only when you have more than your opponent’s minimum bet, but this should not be done all the time.

There are a variety of poker variations that do not involve betting, but instead rely on the strength of a player’s hand. A hand can be considered strong if it contains a large percentage of cards that are good against the board.

The highest possible hand in a game of poker is 7-5-4-3-2 in two or more suits; this is the most common combination. However, in some games a pair of aces may be treated as the lowest hand; this is called the ace-flush.

Other hands include three of a kind, four of a kind and flushes. The highest-ranking hand wins, but if more than one hand qualifies, the hands outside break ties according to High Card rules.