The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game that requires a mix of skill and luck to win. It can be played as a cash or tournament game. There are many different variants of the game, but most have a few similarities: all poker games involve cards and chips, and betting takes place during each deal. The best hand wins the pot at the end of the game.

Each player places a bet (the amount varies by game) into the “pot” in the center of the table before the card are dealt. Each player then decides whether to call, raise or drop (fold).

A player’s choice determines the strength of their hand. The strongest hands are pairs, straights, three of a kind, and full houses. A pair contains two cards of the same rank, a straight has 5 consecutive cards of one suit, and a three of a kind is 3 matching cards of any rank.

In most games the player who has the highest hand is awarded the pot, but some games award the pot to the highest low hand. A high low split is also possible, where the highest and lowest hands divide the pot equally.

During each betting interval (called a round) a player can choose to bet, raise, or drop. To bet, a player must place into the pot the number of chips (representing money) equal to or greater than the total contribution made by the players before him. To raise, a player must put into the pot a number of chips equal to or more than the total of the last player’s contribution. To drop, a player must give up his hand and not return to the betting interval until the next deal.