The Basics of Poker

In poker, a hand of cards is dealt to each player and betting takes place in intervals (called ’rounds’) as per the rules of the variant being played. Each player has the opportunity to call, raise or fold his hand at each round. A player who calls places chips into the pot (representing money, for which poker is almost invariably played) equal to or more than the total contribution by the player before him. If a player wants to increase his stake, he must say ‘raise’ and the other players must either match that amount or ‘call’ it (matching means putting in the same amount as the previous raiser).

The first round of betting is called an ante and is usually the only time in the game where a player can decide whether to keep his card(s) or discard them and make a new one. It is important to know that if you are holding a high pair, a flush or a straight then you must continue to the showdown stage of the game and reveal your cards.

After the ante has been placed, the dealer puts three cards face-up on the table that everyone can use. These are called the flop. After the flop there is another round of betting and if a player wishes to stay in the hand, he must say ‘raise’ which means that he will bet more than the previous player did. If he doesn’t wish to do this, he must say ‘call’ which means that he will match the previous player’s bet.

A player who has a higher pair, a straight or a flush than anyone else wins the pot. If more than one person has a five of a kind then the highest card wins (for example, 5 kings beats 5 queens).

It is also useful to look beyond your own cards and think about what the other players have in their hands. This allows you to put pressure on opponents and makes bluffing easier. It is also useful to remember that there are certain hands that are easy for other people to identify and these tend to be high value. For instance, if you have trip fives then most people will be expecting that you have three of a kind and will be more likely to call your bluff.

The final part of the game is called the river and this is where the fifth community card is revealed. After the river there is a final round of betting and if a player has a high pair, a flush or even just two of a kind then they will win the pot. However, if the other players have high hands then it’s the highest card that breaks the tie.