The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players compete to make the best possible hand using any combination of their own cards and the community cards. The objective is to win the pot, which is the sum of all bets made by each player in a particular deal.

In most variants, the players are dealt one card face down and another card face up. Each deal consists of a series of betting intervals and a showdown in which all players reveal their hands.

The highest-ranking poker combination in a player’s faceup cards is the winning hand, regardless of suit. If two or more players have identical combinations, ties are broken by the second-highest card; this is known as breaking a deadlock.

A standard hand consists of a single high card, a pair, or a straight. The highest single card wins if no combination of the other cards can be formed, while the highest pair or straight wins if both pairs and high cards are formed.

During each betting interval, players may place bets and call bets from other players. When they do, their bets are gathered into the pot and the players’ hands are revealed.

Before the first round of betting, each player must make a contribution to the pot, called an ante. Each ante is worth a certain amount of chips, usually a fixed number.

After the first round of betting, each player must choose to make another bet, a call, or a fold. The decision of whether to call or fold a bet is based on the ratio of the amount in the pot compared to the amount that it costs to call. Generally, it is better to call when the odds of making a hand are better than 11-to-1; otherwise, you may be giving away too much money.