The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game that requires skill to read opponents, predict odds and make big bluffs. It is played in casinos and cardrooms, and has become a popular spectator sport. It is also a widely played online game. It is one of the few games in which it has been argued that a person’s skill level can affect the outcome of a hand.

The game is governed by a set of rules, although each poker variant has its own variation of them. A basic rule is that each player must put a contribution into the pot (representing money) before being dealt cards. The first player to do this is said to bet; players who call that bet are said to call; and players who raise a bet by at least matching the amount of the previous bettor are said to raise. A player who does not want to bet may “check” and stay in the round.

A player who has a strong hand can force weaker hands out of the game by betting. This is called bluffing, and it involves putting in large bets that suggest your hand is better than it is, with the intention that other players will fold their hands rather than risk taking you on in a showdown.

Some poker players organize a series of poker matches, or tournaments, with the overall winner determined by the aggregate results of all the individual matches. This format is common for team and racket sports, combat sports, some board games and many card games.