The Basics of Poker


Poker is a game of chance played with a standard deck of 52 cards. There are many variations of poker, but the basic rules and principles apply to most games.

The Game

A player starts the game by putting a certain number of chips in the pot, usually a fixed amount (the minimum ante or bet). After all players have placed their chips, the dealer deals a number of cards, one at a time, to each player, beginning with the player on the left of the dealer button.

Betting Intervals

Each betting interval, or round, begins when a player to the left of the dealer makes a bet. The next player to the left must then “call” that bet by putting into the pot the same number of chips; or “raise,” which means putting in more than enough chips to call; or “drop” (“fold”), which means putting no chips into the pot and discarding their hand.


The dealer puts a fifth card face up to the table, and for the final time everyone gets a chance to bet/check/raise/fold. If more than one player remains in the hand after the final betting round, a showdown takes place where the hands are revealed, and the player with the highest-ranked hand wins the pot.

The game of poker can be played with any number of players from two to 14 but the ideal number is six, seven or eight. It is also played with more than 10 players in a variety of variants such as Three-Card Monte or Spit-in-the-Ocean.