The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game with many different types, variants and limits. It is generally played with a standard deck of 52 cards. The highest hand wins. Some games also have wild cards and other special rules.

At the start of a hand, each player puts in chips to “buy in” to the game. This is called the ante. Each betting interval, or round, starts when a player to the left of the dealer makes a bet. This can be a flat bet (the same amount as the player is calling) or a raise. The player can also drop a hand (fold) at any time.

The first betting round occurs after each player has 2 hole cards. A 3rd community card is then dealt face up, this is called the flop. The second betting round occurs after this.

A royal flush is 5 consecutive matching cards, ace, king, queen, jack, and ten. A straight is five cards that are consecutive in rank but skip around a suit. Three of a kind is three cards of the same rank, plus two matching cards of another rank. Pair is two distinct cards of the same rank. High card is used to break ties.

One of the most important things to do in poker is learn how to read your opponents. This is not done by looking at subtle physical poker tells, like scratching the nose or playing nervously with your chips, but rather from studying patterns. For example, if a player always calls every bet then you can assume that they have a strong hand. If they only call sometimes then you know that their hand is not so good.