The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players place bets. In a traditional game of poker, players ante for a certain amount (usually one dollar or five dollars) before the game begins. Each player then bets into the center of the table, with the highest-ranking hand winning the pot. Bets are made clockwise and a player has three options: raise, check, or fold.

A player who decides not to raise is called a “checker.” In a “no-bet” game, the player who checks does not ante, but may raise a bet made by another player. This practice is called “sandbagging” and is only allowed if the rules of the game do not prohibit it.

Poker is played using a standard deck of 52 cards, though some variants include jokers. Poker cards have ranks: Ace, King, Queen, and Jack. Each card can be high or low. Each suit has a different value, and all hands have five cards. Some poker games include a wild card or “joker” that is worth two, four, or five of the other cards in a hand.

The best hands are the ones that have two distinct pairs plus a fifth card. In a tie, the highest pair wins. If no player has a pair, the second-highest card wins. If multiple players have the same high card, the high card breaks the tie.