The Basics of Poker


Poker is a family of card games in which players bet over which hand is best. The game is played worldwide but the rules of individual variants vary slightly.

Poker begins with a deal, in which each player is dealt one card face down–his hole card–and one card face up. A betting interval follows, and a showdown is held when all players have revealed their cards and evaluated their hands.

The highest-ranking hand, as ranked according to the rules of the variant being played, wins the pot. The player with the lowest-ranking hand usually wins a part of the pot, known as a “high low split”.

A hand is composed of five cards; in poker variants where a player has more than five cards available to them, only the best 5-card combination counts. There are 10 kinds of poker hands, including straights and four-of-a-kind.

Betting rounds are a key feature of most poker variants. In each round, a player must either match (call) the previous bet, or fold, losing the amount bet so far and all further involvement in the hand.

There are three basic types of bets: ante, blind and a raise. The ante is made before the deal; a blind bet is placed on a turn after the first bet in a betting interval and a raise is made by the player who matches the previous bet but bets more than the previous bettor.

There are also different types of tells, which are non-verbal indications that a player is holding a strong hand or may be bluffing. These tells include eye movements, idiosyncrasies and hand gestures. Often the more tells a player displays, the stronger his hand becomes.