How to Play Poker


Poker is a card game that involves betting and the sharing of cards between players. It is played from a standard deck of 52 cards, with some variant games adding jokers. In most games, the highest-ranking hand wins the pot. Some games use a different number of suits or have special wild cards that can take the rank of any card, or even make up a full hand.

The game begins with the players placing forced bets (ante and blind) into the pot, and the dealer shuffling and dealing the cards. The player to his or her left then cuts the shuffled pack and takes a set number of cards. The dealer then deals each player a full hand of five cards, face-down. Each player may then discard up to three of their cards and take new ones from the top of the deck, if they wish. After the cards are dealt, a series of betting rounds takes place.

A standard poker hand consists of five cards in order of their rank: Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10, with each suit having the same rank as each other and being of one higher value than the others (the cards of hearts beats spades, for example). The cards are dealt into a ‘pot’, which is the center of the table. The highest-ranking hand wins the pot, unless it is part of another type of winning hand, which can be a flush, straight or four of a kind.

Other hands can be made to win the pot, including a pair (two cards of the same rank) or three of a kind (three cards of the same rank) and two pairs (two cards of different ranks), which make up a full house. Some games also allow high-low splits, where the highest and lowest hands share the pot.

You can play the game with a minimum amount of effort, just checking every time a player raises their bets, or you can invest more into the pot by making and raising your own bets. If you want to increase the amount of money you’re putting into the pot, say “raise,” and everyone else can choose whether to call your bet or fold their cards.

Players can also bluff in poker, either by pretending to have a high-scoring hand when they don’t or by pretending to have a low-scoring hand when they do. If successful, a bluff can cause other players to believe that they have a good hand and call the bets of those who don’t, leaving their chips in your hand. If you’re not successful, however, the other players might catch on to your bluff and increase their own bets accordingly. This can be very risky and lead to a large loss for you. The two simplest ways to bluff are to pretend you have a high-scoring hand and then fold when it is your turn to act, or to pretend you have a low-scoring hand and hope that the other players will call your bets.