The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game of chance, but also skill and strategy. It is usually played in groups of two to six players, with one player designated as the dealer. Players place bets on their cards, and the highest hand wins the pot.

The standard 52-card pack is used in most games, although two packs of contrasting colors are sometimes employed to speed up the deal and allow for more hands per round. In these cases, the previous dealer assembles the cards from the pack he dealt and shuffles them while he deals, then passes the re-shuffled deck to his successor for the next round.

In some games the players may agree to use a special fund called a “kitty,” into which they contribute a low-denomination chip before each betting interval. The kitty funds are used to pay for new decks of cards and other game expenses. When the game ends, the players share equally any chips in the kitty.

When a player has three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another, he has a full house. Four of a kind is the lowest possible hand, while a flush contains five consecutive cards of the same suit. A straight is five cards of consecutive ranks but from more than one suit. Three of a kind is the second lowest hand and pairs are the third lowest.

In most games, the first bettor in each betting interval is required to bet at least an established minimum amount (this can vary from game to game). A player who raises a bet made by another player is said to have raised, while a player who calls a bet is said to call.