The Basics of Poker


Poker is a family of card games that is played worldwide. The games vary in deck configuration, number of cards in play, and the number of cards shared by all players; but all have rules that involve one or more rounds of betting.

Poker consists of a standard pack of 52 cards (some variants use multiple packs or include a few jokers). The cards are ranked from high to low and are suited in four different ways: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs.

The game begins with each player placing a bet in the form of a blind or an ante. These bets must be made before any cards are dealt, and the players’ hands are kept secret from their opponents.

After the blinds have been placed, the dealer deals two cards face down to each player and then the first three community cards (the “flop”) to the entire table. The player to the left of the small blind is the first to act; he may fold, check, or make a bet to continue the betting.

Next the dealer “burns” a card from the top of the deck, then deals the first three community cards (the “flop”) to the entire table. The small blind, or the player to his left still in the hand, acts first in this and every succeeding round by folding, checking, or making a bet to continue the betting.

When the flop comes, analyze your hand and decide whether to raise or fold. The best way to do this is by analyzing your opponent’s betting patterns and noticing when they are folding early, which indicates they don’t have strong cards or don’t want to lose as much money.