The Basics of Poker



Almost anyone who has ever picked up a deck of cards and played with friends has likely experienced the thrill of making a good hand. Though dozens of variations exist, the basic mechanics of the game remain the same: players place chips into the pot and either win it all or lose everything.

Poker games begin with a mandatory bet, called a blind or an ante, placed into the pot by two players to the left of the dealer. After the antes or blinds are in, players receive two cards that they keep hidden from their opponents. There is then a round of betting based on the two cards each player has and one additional card revealed by the dealer.

The highest-ranking five-card hand wins the pot. Players may bet that they have a better hand, and other players must call the bet or concede. In addition, players may bluff, hoping to fool other players into calling their bet when they have no superior hand.

Players use the chips to make their bets, with a white chip (or some other light-colored chip) representing a unit, and red or blue chips worth 10, 20, 25, or even fifty white chips. A player who wants to raise a bet must place into the pot enough chips to match or exceed the total amount of chips placed by the player before him in that betting interval. Otherwise, the player must “drop” (fold), losing the chips they have put into the pot.