The Basics of Poker


Whether played at home or in a casino, poker is a card game that is enjoyed by a large number of people around the world. The game consists of a group of players, each with a hand of five cards. The player with the best hand wins the pot. Players are required to read their opponents’ hands and bet accordingly. Poker may be played with any number of players, though the ideal number is six to eight.

The poker deck contains 52 cards. The deck is divided into two packs, each of which contains contrasting colors. The deck is shuffled, then each player receives one card face up. The deck is then passed to the next player. In the final betting interval, the player with the best face up card must bet.

Before the game begins, the dealer assigns values to the chips. A pot is the aggregate of all bets made by all players in one deal. A player may bet as little as a single chip, or he may bet as many as 14 chips. A player who bets a minimum is called a “caller.” Likewise, a player who bets more than a previous bettor is called a “raiser.” A player who raises can count as part of the pot chips required for a call.

The first player to bet is called a “raiser.” This player’s bet may be a smaller sum than the previous bettor, or it may be an equal sum. If a raise is made, the player to the left must also call.

Each betting interval occurs between two rounds of dealing. The first round deals seven cards to each player, and the second round deals four cards to each player. A third round deals one card to each player.

Each player’s hand is revealed in turn, and the first player to make a bet is said to “raise.” The bet is matched by each player to the left. Each player can also bluff, or “fold” if he thinks his hand is not good enough. When a player folds, he discards his hand and loses any chips in the pot.

Poker is also a game of strategy and bluffing. A player can bluff his opponent by betting that he has the best hand. However, he cannot force his opponent to play more. If he does, the opponent is forced to drop his hand and forfeit his right to the pot.

The highest card in any hand is called a kicker. It is the highest-ranking card remaining in the deck. A kicker is also the highest-ranking card in a hand of four or five cards. When two identical poker hands tie, the winner is determined by the card that breaks the tie. The tie is broken by the player who receives the highest card in the second pair. The tie is broken by the player who gets the highest unmatched card. In a four-of-a-kind, the kicker is the fifth card.