The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game where you compete with other players to win a pot (money) by betting over a series of rounds. Whether you play poker online or in person, the basic rules are the same. You are dealt cards and bet over them, with the aim of making a high ranking five-card hand in the end.

The basics

To start playing poker you need to know a few basic terms and rules. These are things that all players must agree upon and they include:

Ante – The first, usually small amount of money put up in the game. This must be placed in the pot before you can be dealt in.

Raise – To raise the bet made by someone else. It is important to be clear and precise when describing your raise. You should say “I raise” and then place the amount of chips you are raising into the pot. If you say “I bet 10” but only place $5 in the pot then the other player will assume you only raised 5 and not 10.

Fold – To throw your cards away and exit the hand. This is a very common and sometimes necessary strategy when you have a bad hand, or when you think you have a weak one. The main reason to fold is to protect your chip stack, but you can also do it when an opponent’s betting suggests that they have a strong hand and are trying to steal your money.

Call – To call means to bet the same amount as the last player’s bet in that round. This is done by saying “call” and then placing your chips into the pot.

Straight – A straight is a set of five cards in consecutive order of value, of any suit. It is important to note that an Ace can be either the lowest or highest card in a Straight.

Flush – A flush is a set of five cards in the same suit, of any rank. The higher the rank of your flush, the better the hand.

Three of a Kind – A three of a kind is a pair of matching cards and then one unrelated card. This beats two pairs.

Bluffing – To make a bluff you must look beyond your own cards and consider what cards other players have. You can then make decisions based on their relative strength.

Reading other players is a big part of the game and it takes time to master. It is important to pay attention to subtle physical tells as well, but the majority of your reads come from a player’s betting patterns. If they always fold early then it is likely that they have a weak hand, and you can often bluff them into folding. Conversely, if they are constantly betting then they probably have a strong hand and will be difficult to bluff. This is especially true if they tend to bet large when in late position.