The Basics of Poker


Poker is a game of chance and skill, where the outcome of each hand significantly depends on the choices made by players. Various variants of the game have different rules and specific betting intervals, but all share a few essential features.

The Game

In poker, each player is dealt a hand of five cards. The hands are ranked by their mathematical frequency (the more unusual the combination of the cards, the higher its rank), and the best hand wins the pot. Ties are broken by comparing the highest card among all hands.

The Typical Hands

A full house, which is 3 cards of the same rank and 2 cards of another rank (but not a pair), is considered the best hand. A flush, which is 5 cards of the same suit, is also a good hand. Straights, which are 5 cards of consecutive ranks but from more than one suit, are not as strong as full houses or flushes; they can be broken by a high card.

The Most Popular Variants

There are a number of different variations of the game, but the most common are Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker. Each variation has different rules and betting intervals, but all games have a set of cards called poker chips that represent money.

The Rules

In a typical poker game, each player is required to put up a small amount of money, called an ante. This money is used to pay for the cards in the deck and pay for food or drinks at the table. The antes are usually a fixed amount, but in some variants they can be larger or smaller.

Before the deal, each player is required to call (match) a previous bet or raise their own bet. The first bettor in each betting interval is the “active player.” If no one calls, the active player makes their next bet. If the active player’s bet is less than the amount of the previous bet, he is called a fold or check.

The Most Popular Variants

In most versions of the game, each betting interval has a minimum ante or bet. This amount must be met by all players in the current betting interval. Whenever a player meets this ante or bet, they may make a subsequent bet of any amount that they want to contribute to the pot.

The rules of the game depend on the specific variant being played; however, they generally include a flop, turn, and river, in which each player is dealt two more cards, which are called community cards. The community cards are seen by all players and act as a fifth card in each hand.

If no one matches the last bet, a showdown takes place where the best hand wins the pot. This can be a tie if both players have the same hand or a win for the winner of the previous round. The winner of the showdown must reveal their hand to all other players.