The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game with a long history and many variants. Although it involves a considerable amount of luck, in the long run most players’ actions are determined by decisions made on the basis of probability, psychology and game theory.

In each betting interval, or hand, the first player must place chips (representing money) into the pot equal to or greater than the total contribution of the player to his left. In turn each player may “call” that bet by putting in the same number of chips; raise it, thereby adding more to the bet amount; or drop (“fold”) his cards and discard them. A dropped hand is considered no longer competing for the pot and he must pay any bets made before him.

A good hand in poker includes two matching cards of the same rank and three unmatched cards of different ranks. A pair wins ties, while a flush contains 5 cards of consecutive rank. A straight is any five cards that skip around in a sequence but are of the same suit. A high card breaks ties when none of the above hands qualify.

If you have a strong pocket hand, such as a pair of kings, you should always bet it to help force weaker hands out of the pot. However, be careful if you have a weak pocket hand on the flop because other players might see your ace as a warning sign that you are holding a strong hand and are bluffing.