The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game played throughout the world in private homes, poker clubs, casinos, and online. In a standard hand, each player has five cards; the highest-ranking hand wins the pot.

The game is played by a dealer who shuffles and deals the cards, one at a time, to players starting from the left of the table. The dealer may reshuffle the cards between deals and has the last right to cut, which is a forced bet that a player must make if he wants to continue playing.

Rules vary widely among variants, but the basic idea is that each player must wager a certain amount of chips (usually a fixed amount in any given deal) to make his total contribution to the pot at least equal to the amount of chips placed before him by another player. The first player to act is known as the “starting dealer”; the other players in turn may “call” (match) or “raise” the start bet.

When a player folds, he forfeits his right to bet in the next round; if all but one of the players still remain, a showdown is held where each hand is revealed. In a tournament, multiple rounds are usually played until one player remains and wins the final prize.

The game is regarded as a test of skill; poker players are expected to develop their skills quickly and thereby maximize their profit. There are many methods of assessing a player’s skill, including his degree of tightness and the percentage of hands in which he voluntarily wagered money before the flop.