The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players place bets and show their cards at the end of the hand. Although the outcome of any specific hand depends on chance, in general players choose their actions based on expected value and psychology. Players can also bluff, hoping to deceive other players. While bluffing is not considered cheating, it can be considered bad etiquette.

Poker rules vary between games and tables, but most involve an ante (money placed into the pot before the first betting round), blinds (players who contribute to the pot without seeing their cards) and the turn/river (last betting). Some games use a fixed number of chips as the pot size and other game-specific rules.

In poker, a hand is a grouping of five cards. A player’s own cards plus the community cards determine the strength of their hand. A high-card combination is valued in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency; the more unusual the hand, the higher it ranks. A pair is formed when a player has two of the same cards; if multiple players have a pair, the higher-ranked pair wins.

In the second phase of a poker hand, called the “flop,” three additional community cards are dealt face up on the table and another betting round takes place. It is important to analyze the flop carefully because it will reveal how strong a player’s hand is. It is also a good time to consider whether to bluff.