The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game where players place chips (representing money) into the pot to indicate their willingness to play. The player who has the highest ranked hand of cards when all hands are shown wins the pot. In many cases there are rules governing how the pot is shared after the hand has been won.

The first step in a poker hand is to compare your cards to the dealer’s. A good rule of thumb is that if your cards are higher than the Queen they should be played. If your cards are lower you should fold. A pair contains two matching cards of one rank, a straight contains five consecutive cards of the same suit, and a flush has 5 cards that skip around in their ranks and are from more than one suit.

Once everyone has their 2 hole cards there is a round of betting which is initiated by 2 mandatory bets called blinds put into the pot by the two players to the left of the dealer. After the initial bets there is a series of three cards known as the flop, an additional card called the turn, and finally a final card called the river.

At each stage in the hand you have the option to raise the amount of your bet by saying “raise”. This will allow other players to decide whether they want to call or fold their cards. Keeping an eye on other players and their body language is an essential part of playing poker, there are a number of tells which you should learn to recognize.