The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game played by 2 or more players with “chips” (money to bet with). Each player starts with two cards (“hole” cards) and then five community cards are dealt. Each player aims to make the best 5-card poker hand using their personal two cards and the community cards. Players may also bluff, betting that they have the highest hand when in fact they do not, in order to win a bet from opponents with superior hands.

The rules of Poker vary, but the most important element is to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize wins with strong ones. This requires good decision-making skills, as well as the ability to read other players and predict their behavior. To improve your decision-making, spend time observing experienced players and imagine how you would react in their situation to develop your instincts.

Before the cards are even dealt, each player must put an initial contribution, called an ante, into the pot. Then the game begins with a round of betting, started by two mandatory bets (“blinds”) that are placed into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. After the first betting round, a new set of cards are dealt face up. Depending on the rules of your game, there may be another betting interval or one more card may be dealt (“River”). Then the players have an opportunity to place bets again. During the betting interval, players may raise, call, or fold.