The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players wager money by placing chips or cash in the pot. A hand of five cards is dealt to each player, and betting occurs in rounds. The goal of the game is to win the pot, or the total amount of bets made during one deal. Players may choose to raise or call each bet in turn.

The game of poker has many variants. The basic game is played with two or more people, with the player to the dealer’s left acting first. Each round the dealer deals each player two cards face down and one card face up. This card is called a hole card. Each player must bet at least an established minimum; if no player calls, the last bettor wins.

After each round of betting the cards are shown to all players, and the player with the best poker hand wins the pot. The best poker hands are a straight, four of a kind, or a full house. A straight is five consecutive cards of the same suit; four of a kind is four of the same rank (such as 4 aces), and a full house is three of a kind and an ace.

To make the story believable, focus on the players’ reactions to the cards that are dealt. How they flinched, smiled, or bluffed can be more interesting than the cards themselves. A good poker player is also able to read the body language of his opponents; this skill is known as “table talk” and involves paying attention to subtle physical tells.