The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players place bets on the value of their own hand and the hands of others. The highest-ranking hand wins the pot. Players can also bluff by betting that they have a good hand, which requires other players to call (match) the bet or concede the hand.

Cards are dealt one at a time, face down, to each player, and then a round of betting takes place. If no one raises his or her bet, the cards are revealed and the winner is declared.

The standard 52-card pack is used, with some variant games adding a joker or using wild cards. A royal flush consists of the Ace, King, Queen, and Jack of the same suit. A straight contains five consecutive cards of the same rank, such as 5-6-7-8-9. A flush includes three matching cards of one rank and two unmatched cards of another rank. A pair is made up of two cards of the same rank, while three of a kind contains three unmatched cards.

During each betting interval, players may discard up to three of their cards and draw replacements from the undealt portion of the deck. This process is known as the “draw.” Some people choose to discard their cards after each betting interval and simply hold their remaining hand; this is called standing pat. Others, however, use bluffing skills and good timing to increase the odds of winning a hand by raising their bets. Depending on the length of play and intensity of betting, the effect of chance diminishes and the game becomes a matter of skill.