The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players bet that they have the best hand of five cards. They can also bluff, betting that they have a good hand when they do not. If the other players call their bet, they must surrender their cards and forfeit the pot.

A player’s personal two hole cards are combined with the five community cards to form the best possible poker hand. The cards are dealt face down, with the exception of the last card in each position, which is turned face up on what is known as the flop. After this a round of betting begins, starting with the player to the left of the dealer.

The highest poker hand is the royal flush, which consists of four matching cards of the same rank and all five cards in the same suit. This beats all other hands except for a straight flush, which contains five consecutively-ranked cards of the same suit. Other poker hands include three of a kind, two pair, and one pair.

The game became more popular early in the 21st century, when it was televised and tournament results were recorded. It has now become a spectator sport, with large audiences watching live games at events such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour. The game is played in hundreds of variants, with many of them based on the same principles.