The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players bet money on the outcome of a hand. A player places a bet either because he believes his hand has a positive expected value or to give other players the impression that he has a strong hand, hoping to persuade them to fold (abandon their cards). The object of the game is to win the pot, which contains all bets placed during the hand. While much of poker involves chance, the long-term success of a player is determined by his decisions chosen on the basis of probability, psychology and game theory.

Each poker game begins with a standard deck of 52 cards, with a joker or wild card added in some games. The cards are ranked from high to low: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2. The highest pair wins. The highest single card breaks ties.

Position Matters

You hold a pair of kings off the deal and a decent board. You should be careful about your bluffing, but you also need to consider how much the board could support. A full house or flush on the flop could spell disaster for your pocket kings, for example, and a straight is a tough hand to hide. As the betting interval ends, players reveal their hands and a showdown takes place. During the showdown, each player who remains must put in chips equal to his or her initial bet, or drop out.