The Basics of Poker

A game of poker is a card game in which players make wagers (called ‘betting’) on the chances of having a winning hand. The game is a game of chance, but the best players know how to reduce the element of chance and play their hands based on mathematical odds and game theory rather than emotion.

Players make forced bets at the beginning of a hand (the ante or blind), and then the dealer shuffles and deals cards to each player, starting with the player to his or her left. The cards may be dealt face up or down, depending on the variant of poker being played. After the initial deal the first of many betting intervals begins.

During each betting interval, the dealer puts three additional cards on the table that everyone can use (called the flop). Once all players have a chance to check or raise their bets, another card is placed on the table that everyone can use (the turn). Once all players have the opportunity to bet again the final card is put on the board that anyone can use (the river). The player with the highest ranked poker hand wins the pot.

A high card is the highest single card, a pair is two cards of the same rank, a flush is 5 cards in sequence but from more than one suit and a straight is five cards that run in consecutive order but don’t share the same suits. The best hand is a royal flush, which consists of all four matching cards.