Understanding the Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which each player attempts to form the best possible hand. The highest-ranking hand wins the pot. Players can form the best hand by using their own cards, as well as community cards (cards that all players see and have to use in combination with their own cards).

Understanding Poker Rules

A card deck is shuffled before each round of play. The dealer deals cards to each player, one at a time, clockwise around the table. The first round of betting, called an “ante,” begins when a player in the leftmost position makes a bet of one or more chips. Each player to the left must either call that bet; or raise, which means that they put into the pot more than enough chips to call; or fold (“drop”).

The bets are equalized in each betting interval, and the last round of betting, called a “showdown,” is when the winner is determined. Each player who remains in the hand shows their cards face up on the table.

Betting Intervals and Showdowns

There are three betting intervals in every poker deal, each beginning when a player to the left bets a certain amount of chips. The players in the next betting interval must either call that bet by putting into the pot at least as many chips as the previous player; or raise, which means that they put in more than enough chips to call; or fold.

In most games of poker, the highest-ranking hand is the winning hand, so it’s important to know what the highest-ranking hands are and how to play them. A Royal Flush (10-Jack-Queen-King-Ace of the same suit), Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flash, and Straight are all considered the strongest hands. Other types of hands include two pair, three of a kind, and a high card.