The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players place chips (representing money) into the pot in order to win the hand. The outcome of each hand depends on chance and a large degree of psychology and strategy, but players must also know how to bet. The game is usually played with a standard 52-card pack plus one or more jokers as wild cards. The most prestigious poker hands are the Royal Flush, which consists of an Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 of the same suit; Straight Flush, five consecutive cards of the same suit, but not in sequence; Four of a Kind (four matching cards of one rank); Three of a Kind (three cards of the same rank); Pair (two distinct pairs); and High Card, which breaks ties when no other hands qualify.

At the start of a hand, each player must ante (the amount varies by game; our games require a nickel) and then place his or her bet into the pot. Then, the dealer shuffles and offers the shuffled cards to the player to his or her right for a cut.

Beginners must learn to read the other players and watch for “tells.” Tells are not just nervous habits, like fiddling with the chips or wearing a ring. They also include the way a player bets – for example, a very conservative player will rarely raise his or her bets. Aggressive players, on the other hand, are risk-takers and may be easily bluffed.