The Basics of Poker


In poker, players make a number of bets into a common pot throughout a round. The player with the highest hand at the end of a betting phase wins the pot. Players can fold, call or raise. Generally speaking, the highest cards (Ace, King, Queen, Jack) win. A royal flush contains all five cards of the same rank. A straight contains any 5 cards that skip around in rank or sequence but are from one suit, while a three of a kind contains 3 cards of the same rank plus two unmatched cards.

Before cards are dealt, players make forced bets called an ante and/or blind bets. These bets are placed into the central pot and are made on the basis of expected value calculations based on probability, psychology and game theory. Money is only placed into the pot if a player believes that the bet has positive expected value.

Once the antes and/or blind bets have been made, the dealer shuffles the cards and deals each player a set number of cards. Depending on the variant being played, these cards may be face up or face down.

During the course of each round, players take turns clockwise around the table revealing their hands. In most games, a player who does not reveal their hand can still win the round. However, if a player chooses to do so, that player forfeits any amount of their own bet that they have placed since the last time they were at the table.