The Basics of Poker

Poker is a game played with chips (representing money) and usually with seven or more players. The lowest-denomination chip is called a white, and a red one is worth the minimum ante or bet. Often, the players establish a special fund called a kitty to pay for new decks of cards and food and drinks. Any chips left in the kitty when the game ends are divided equally among those players who were in the game at that time.

Each betting interval, or hand, begins with one player placing a bet of one or more chips into the pot. Each player to his left must either “call” that bet by putting in chips of the same value into the pot or raise it. If a player cannot call the bet, he may drop his hand and leave the table.

A player’s hand must consist of at least five cards to win a pot. When a player’s cards are revealed at the end of a round or hand, the best poker hand takes the pot.

There are a lot of catchy expressions in poker, but few are more important than this one: “Play the Player, Not the Cards.” This means that even if you have a great poker hand, it’s only as good as the hands your opponents are holding. This is why it’s so important to study the other players at your table, to learn their tells and idiosyncrasies.