The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game for two to fourteen players, played with an object of winning the pot (the sum total of all bets made during one deal). The game can be played in many different ways, but the rules are generally similar. Each player places an initial forced bet, called an ante, and then acts according to the rules of that particular variant. Players may call, raise, or fold. Occasionally, a player will place all of their remaining chips into the pot, which is known as going all-in. There are special rules for this.

Players reveal their cards during a betting phase, and the player with the best hand wins the pot. This is known as the showdown. A poker hand usually consists of five cards, but there are several variations where more than five cards may be used. The value of a poker hand is in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency; the more unusual a combination, the higher the hand rank. Players may also choose to bluff, betting that they have a superior hand when they do not, in order to win the pot by causing other players to fold.

In most variations, the first player to act is the dealer, and play continues clockwise around the table. Depending on the game, some players are required to make blind bets, which are placed before the cards are dealt. These bets can either replace the ante, or be in addition to it.