The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players use their cards to make the best five-card hand. During each hand, the player who has the highest-ranked hand wins the “pot” – all of the bets that have been placed into the center of the table during the hand. If no one has a high hand, the pot is shared amongst players.

Each hand starts with players placing an initial amount of money into the middle, called an ante or blind. These are forced bets, meant to create an incentive for people to play the hand. Then the cards are shuffled and dealt to each player.

Once everyone has their 2 cards, there is a round of betting starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Then 3 more cards are flipped face up, called the flop. Another round of betting follows, starting with the player to the left of the ante.

When it’s your turn, you can fold if you don’t have a good hand, call (match the highest bet made at the table so far), or raise. You can also check, which means you’re calling but are not raising, or you can re-raise, meaning you’ve raised your bet higher than the previous player.

Each type of hand has different strengths and weaknesses. A full house contains 3 matching cards of the same rank, a flush is 5 cards of consecutive ranks in the same suit, and a straight is 5 cards of sequential ranks but from more than one suit. The highest hand wins the pot, and ties are broken by the value of the highest card.