The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players wager by placing chips into the pot. A player with a winning hand can then bluff to induce other players to call his bet and thus increase the size of the pot. The game has many variants, but all share some fundamental rules.

Before the cards are dealt each player is required to put in an initial contribution, called the ante. Then the dealer shuffles the cards and deals them to the players, one at a time, beginning with the player to his left. Each player may then choose to call the bet, raise it or fold.

After the first betting round (called the flop) three more cards are placed face up on the table. These are the community cards. Players then combine their private cards with the community cards to make a poker hand. The highest poker hand wins the pot.

Some poker hands are more powerful than others, but a good poker hand is not just about the strength of the hand; it’s also about how well it can be concealed. That’s why many professional poker coaches emphasize the importance of reading players. This can be done through subtle physical poker tells like scratching the nose, but it is more often accomplished by studying betting patterns. For example, if a player always calls the bets then chances are that they have some pretty strong cards. A player who rarely bets will likely have a weaker hand.