The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players wager money, called chips, on the outcome of each hand. The game can be played casually for pennies or matchsticks, or professionally for thousands of dollars. While there is luck involved, the game also requires a considerable amount of skill.

The goal of the game is to form a high-ranking poker hand and win the pot, which is the sum total of all bets placed during a betting round. Players can claim the pot by winning a high-ranking hand or by making a bet that other players call, forcing them to fold.

Each player starts with a set of cards and places an initial forced bet, typically the ante or blind. The dealer then shuffles the cards and offers them to the player on their right for a cut. Once everyone has their cards, the first of many betting rounds begins.

A full house is a poker hand consisting of three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank. A straight is five cards of consecutive rank composed of more than one suit. A flush is five cards of the same suit in no specific order.

Reading other people is a crucial skill in any game, and poker is no exception. There are books dedicated to it, and good players spend a great deal of time analyzing the way other players handle their cards and chips, as well as how they move around the table.