The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players place an ante (amount varies by game, our games are typically a nickel) and bet into the pot when betting comes around. The highest hand wins the pot. Ideally, a player should play any hands greater than a pair and fold any hands worse.

Most poker variants are played with a maximum number of six players. Each player receives five cards and must decide whether to call a bet, forfeit their hand, or bluff. Players may raise the bet on their own, or a team of players may raise all the bets in order to win the pot. The game requires a certain amount of skill and psychology, especially when the stakes are high.

The most common poker hand rankings are: a pair, two distinct pairs, three of a kind, straight, flush, and high card. If both hands have a pair, the highest rank wins, and ties are broken by the second highest, then third highest, etc.

Top players often fast-play their strong hands in an attempt to build the pot and scare off other players who may have a superior hand. They also try to read other players’ tells (eye movements, idiosyncrasies, hand gestures, betting behavior, and so forth) in an effort to discern whether their opponents are bluffing. Regardless of the strategy employed, it is always important to have a reason for every move made, whether checking, calling, raising, or folding.