The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game where players place bets voluntarily on the chance that their hand will beat those of the other players. The player who makes the highest ranked hand wins the pot, which is all of the money that has been bet during the hand. The game has many nuances and is a fascinating study in game theory, psychology and probability.

Before the cards are dealt each player must place a bet. The amount of the bet may vary, but it must be equal to or greater than the sum of all other bets in the hand. If a player wishes to raise his bet he must do so by matching the previous active player’s stake. This method of betting prevents any player from making a bet that will not win the pot and it also forces players to think about their chances of winning.

After the initial bets have been placed the dealer deals 2 cards face up to each player in the hand. This is called the flop. Then another round of betting takes place based on the strength of each player’s hand.

A hand consists of 5 cards and must be ranked high to win the pot. A straight contains any five consecutive cards of the same suit. A flush contains any five cards of the same rank that skip around but are from more than one suit. A pair contains two cards of the same rank and three unrelated side cards.