The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players try to make the best five-card hand by betting, traditionally for cash or chips. Players have “chips” to place in a pot during each betting interval, and the player who makes the highest hand wins the pot. The game can be played by two to more than seven players.

In most games, each player ante a small amount (amount varies by game but is usually no more than a nickel) to be dealt cards. Once the cards are dealt, there is a round of betting that begins with the player to the left of the dealer. This player can either call the bet (putting into the pot the same number of chips as any previous player) or raise it, which means increasing the bet by a certain amount. Then there is another betting interval, until a player calls or folds.

A winning hand is made up of cards of one rank, in a sequence or run, with matched pairs or three of a kind, and straights. Flushes are 5 consecutive cards of the same suit, and straights are five unmatched cards that skip around in rank but remain consecutive. Three of a kind is two matching cards of the same rank, and 2 pair is two cards of the same rank with a different partner.

When the game ends, any remaining chips in the pot are divided among the players who still have a hand. Players may also build up a special fund, called the kitty, by cutting a low-denomination chip from each pot in which there has been more than one raise. This money is used to pay for things like new decks of cards and food and drinks.