The Basics of Poker


Poker is an American card game with a gambling element, played with a deck of 52 cards. There are many different variations of the game, but all share the same basic rules.

The goal of the game is to form a hand that is as strong as possible. Depending on the game, a player may be required to place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt, called antes.

When the cards are dealt, each player must choose the best hand from their five cards. The hand must contain at least one high card, two pairs (two cards that are the same number), three of a kind (three cards that are of the same suit), and a straight (five consecutive cards).

Each player must also bet or raise at specific intervals, which are usually referred to as streets, according to the rules of the variant being played. When a betting interval has ended, the betting turn passes to the next player in line.

Variants of the game can be played with any number of players from 2 to 14; in most cases, the minimum number of players is 6. A typical stud game has a number of side pots, some of which are equal to the amount of money in the main pot.

The word “poker” probably derives from the French poque, which means “knock.” It is believed that the game’s seedy origins lie in the underworld of card hustlers. The game was popular among pickpockets, who would use the term “poke” in a way that fooled unsuspecting opponents into thinking they were playing a legitimate game of cards.