The Basics of Poker


Poker, also known as high card, is a game for two or more players and involves betting on the outcome of a hand of cards. There are countless variations of poker, but most share the same basic rules. All players must post forced bets (the ante and blind) before the first betting round; the player with the best hand wins the pot.

Poker began as a bluffing game in Europe and was probably derived from the 17th-century French game poque, which in turn may have originated from the German game pochen. The game spread throughout the world, eventually reaching America on riverboats sailing the Mississippi.

To play, a table (preferably round) with surrounding chairs is needed, along with cards and chips. The game can be played by as few as two players, but is most enjoyable with six or more. The game can be a great social event, and the by-play between players can often be as interesting as the cards themselves.

The standard poker hand consists of five consecutive cards of the same rank (excluding the ace, which is considered the highest). Higher-ranking hands beat lower-ranking ones. Ties are broken by the highest unmatched cards or secondary pairs (such as threes of a kind). The game is also sometimes played with wild cards, which can be used to make some hands. In these cases, the rank of the wild cards is higher than that of the standard suits.