The Basics of Poker


Poker is a betting card game where players try to make the best hand. The rules vary depending on the variant but there are several essential features that all poker games share.

The game is played in a series of rounds and betting intervals, with each round or “deal” distributing one card face up to each active player. Each player studies the cards in his hand and decides whether to bet or pass, which is called folding.

Each round of betting begins with the player to the left of the small blind being the first to act, and the action proceeds clockwise. The player to the right of the big blind is the next to act and may fold, call (match) the big blind, or raise the amount he has already placed in the pot.

Standard poker hands rank according to their odds (probability), with the highest possible hand beating any straight flush and the lowest possible hand being 7-5-4-3-2 in two or more suits. A tie is broken by the highest unmatched card or secondary pair, and winnings are shared if there are two or more identical hands.

Bluffing is a primary feature of poker, and it is a way to misrepresent the strength of your hand. For example, if you flop a set on a rainbow board, and the opponent calls your bets on the flop, you may bluff by making an oddly large bet on the river to look like you’re stealing the pot.

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