The Basics of Poker


The game of poker is a card game in which players make bets with chips (representing money) that are placed into a central pot. The objective is to maximize winnings with good hands and minimize losses with bad ones. The skill required for this is based on probability, psychology, and game theory. Unlike some other card games, in poker, the player’s action at the table is determined by their own choice of bet and raise, rather than by what is forced on them by the rules of the game.

Each player buys in to the game by putting an initial contribution, called the ante or blind bet, into the pot before cards are dealt. The dealer then shuffles the cards, cuts the deck, and deals each player a number of cards that they can see, starting with the player to their immediate left. These cards are then discarded or replaced with new cards from the top of the deck, as needed. A series of betting intervals (sometimes called rounds) then occurs, with each player having the option to call, raise, or drop the hand.

If you don’t want to participate in a hand, it’s polite to say “fold.” You can also say “raise” to add more money to the betting pool. If you have a strong hand, you can say “call” to match the amount of money your opponent has raised or even raise them higher if you think you’re on to a winning hand.