The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players compete to make the best five-card hand. Although there are many variations of the game, each share a common set of basic rules.

The cards are dealt face-up to each player, and a betting round takes place. During the round, each player can choose to “open,” or place an ante into the pot; “call,” which is to match the previous highest bet; or “raise,” which is to increase the previous highest bet.

A round of betting ends when all active players have bet an equal amount. If no opponents call a player’s bet or raise, that player wins the pot.

There are two fundamental types of poker hands: the straight and the flush. A straight is a set of five cards (such as 5-3-3-2-1) that can contain any suit. A flush is a set of five cards that are all of the same suit.

Some games also require that a certain minimum hand is required before the first bet can be made. For example, in Texas hold ’em, a pair of kings is not a strong hand, but it is sufficient to open the betting.

When a poker hand ties, the cards outside break ties in accordance with high card rules. For example, a pair of kings breaks ties when the outside cards are of different ranks, while three of a kind does not.

In some variants, players may be forced to make a bet before the deal is completed; these are called “blinds.” The player to the left of the dealer is the “small blind” and the one two positions to the left of the dealer is the “big blind.” Some other variants include a “bring-in” in which the bring-in is required to match the fixed bet or to optionally come in for a raise.