The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game with rules that vary by variant but in most forms the object is to win the pot, which is the sum of all bets placed during a deal. The best way to win the pot is with a high-ranking poker hand, but bluffing can also be an effective strategy. A player may bet any amount during a hand, and can raise other players’ bets by saying “call” or “I call.”

In some forms of the game, one or more players must place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt. These are called forced bets, and come in the form of ante, blind, or bring-in bets. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them to each player one at a time, beginning with the player to their left. Players can then either choose to stay in their hand or fold it.

The rank of poker hands is determined by their odds (probability), with the highest hand being five of a kind. Ties are broken by the highest secondary pair (two matching cards of another rank), or, if the hand contains no pairs, by the highest unmatched card. Depending on the variant, some cards are wild and can be used to make additional pairs or break ties.