The Basics of Poker


A card game in which players place bets (in chips, representing money) on their own or other players’ hands. It is believed to have originated in America and has become the most popular card game in the world, both in live games and over the Internet. It is also a highly popular casino game. A player may call (match) the bet, raise (increase), or fold his hand. The skillful use of a poker strategy can eliminate the influence of luck and make the game a true test of intellect.

Each player is dealt two cards, called his hole cards, and the game begins with a round of betting, initiated by mandatory bets called blinds placed into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. Once the betting round is over, a fifth card, called the river, is dealt face up. The best five-card poker hand wins the pot, which contains all of the bets made at each of the previous rounds of betting.

A good poker hand contains three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another, or a pair plus two unmatched cards. Other poker hands are a flush, which is five consecutive cards of the same suit; a straight, which is five consecutive cards in different suits; and a three-of-a-kind, or a full house, which is three matching cards of one rank and two matching or unmatched cards of another rank.

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