The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players place bets on the value of their hands. Minimizing losses with poor hands and maximizing wins with good ones is the core skill of the game.

The game is played from a standard 52-card deck, with the usual four suits (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs), each with a rank. The higher the ranking of a card, the more valuable it is. Some games include wild cards.

Before the cards are dealt, the rules of the game may require that each player put an initial contribution, called an ante or blind bet, into a central pot. A round of betting then begins. After each betting interval, or round, the cards are revealed. Each player must then decide whether to fold or bet further. In most cases, the highest-ranking hand awarded the pot.

If a player chooses to call, they must bet at least the same amount as the last player. They can also raise the amount, or “raise.” If a player declines to do either of these, they must discard their hand and drop out of the competition for the pot. A player who raises without having a strong enough hand is said to be bluffing. Players may observe tells in each other, such as a player who blinks more often or chews gum, to help decide whether another player is bluffing. If more than one player remains in contention after the final betting round, a showdown is held and the winning hand is revealed.