The Basics of Poker

Poker is a game of chance in which players bet money into a pot of chips. The object is to win the pot by having the best hand at the end of the game.

Poker consists of several stages, including the flop, turn and river, which determine whether a player has a winning hand. The highest possible hand is a straight, followed by flushes and fours of a kind (four-card hands) in two or more suits.

When playing a high-stakes game, it is advisable to avoid tables with strong players; they tend to have lots of experience and can easily bluff or over-call you. It’s also best to play at a table with a low number of players; this will give you more opportunities to win.

The first round of betting begins with each player placing a small bet called an ante, which everyone has to contribute before the hand is dealt. The ante gives the pot a value right off the bat, and allows players to see how much their opponent is betting before making their own bet.

In a betting round, each player may “check”, which means they don’t make a bet; or “open”, which is to make the first bet in the round. Then each player in turn may “fold”, which is to drop out of the hand and lose any bets they have made; or “call”, which is to match the highest bet so far.