The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game that requires skill and strategy. It is played in many variations with 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 players. The objective is to win the pot (the sum of all bets in a particular deal), either by having the highest-ranking poker hand or by making a bet that other players call. The game has become an extremely popular pastime in the United States, where it originated, and is widely played at casinos, in home games, and in tournaments. It has also spread to many other countries.

The highest-ranking poker hand is a royal flush, which consists of the five cards of the same rank in two suits. Other possible poker hands include three of a kind, straight, and flush. A player may bluff by betting that he has the best poker hand when in reality he does not, hoping to convince other players to call his bet and reveal their cards.

The rules of poker vary slightly between variants, but in general one player places chips into the pot in turn, starting with the player to his left. He can raise (i.e., increase his bet) or fold, and he must place the same number of chips into the pot as the player before him. He may also pass on his turn, but this is rare. In some poker games, the cards are discarded before the final betting phase; in others, they are kept hidden until the final betting period.