The Basics of Poker


The game of poker involves betting on a hand consisting of five cards. The value of the card in the hand is in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency, so that rarer combinations are more valuable. Players may bet that they hold the best hand, and other players must call or fold. A player may also bluff, hoping to win by making other players call their bets, although doing so often lowers the winnings of a hand.

The rules of poker vary by variant, but the basic game consists of an ante (an amount varying by game, typically a nickel) and several rounds of betting. Each round begins with the dealer shuffling a pack of cards and dealing them one at a time to each player, beginning with the player on his left. The dealer then offers the shuffled cards to the player on his right for a cut, and any player may cut if he does not wish to deal.

After the initial deal, there is usually one betting interval according to the rules of the game, followed by a showdown of the remaining cards. Some games also allow players to draw replacement cards from the undealt portion of the pack, known as drawing cards.

For example, suppose you have a pair of kings off the deal. You call a dime bet, and another player raises a dime. You can then choose to call or fold, depending on your position and stack depth. In a tournament game, the goal is to have the highest hand at the end of the betting period. Ties are broken by rank (e.g., a four of a kind beats a straight), suits (except in a flush) and high card.