The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game played by two or more players on a table. The object of the game is to win the pot, which is the sum of all bets made in a given deal. Each player puts money into the pot voluntarily, either because he believes that his hand has positive expected value or because he wants to bluff other players for strategic reasons.

The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards plus one or more wild cards (jokers). The cards have four suits: spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs; no suit is higher than another. The highest five-card poker hand wins. Some games allow ties.

Each round of betting in a poker game involves one or more betting intervals, depending on the rules of the game. One player, designated by the rules of the particular game, has the privilege or obligation to make the first bet in each betting interval. He may raise or check his bet.

The most common poker hands are three of a kind, straight and flush. Each of these requires at least two matching cards. A pair is two matching cards of a rank, and a full house is three cards of the same rank and two matching cards of another rank. Ties are broken by the high card, which is a single card. The game also allows players to swap cards in their hand after the flop, which can alter their strategy.