The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players wager money on the outcome of the hand, depending on the rules of the particular poker variation being played. While many different poker games exist, most of them share certain underlying characteristics, such as the standard poker hand ranking system and betting structures.

To begin a poker hand, each player must place an amount of money into the pot (amount varies by game; in our games it’s typically a nickel). Then each player receives cards. Once everyone has five cards, the players reveal their hands and bet again. The player with the highest hand wins the pot.

If a player declines to do this, he drops out of any side pots and surrenders his rights in the original pot to the player who called his earlier bet. He may also fold his hand and no longer compete for the pot.

The highest hand is a royal flush, consisting of five consecutive cards of the same suit, such as A-K-Q-J-T. A straight is a five-card sequence in order, such as 5-6-7-8-9, and may include an ace high or low (A-K-Q-J-T beats 5432A). Three of a kind is any three cards of the same rank. If two hands have a three of a kind, the higher hand wins.

Reading your opponents’ behavior at the table is an important part of being a good poker player. This includes watching their physical poker tells and analyzing their betting patterns.