The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game that involves betting between players. The goal is to win the pot (the sum of all bets made in one hand) by having the highest ranking poker hand. Players may also bluff, attempting to make other players believe that they have a high-ranking hand when they do not.

The first step to becoming a good poker player is understanding the basics of the game. Many new players seek out cookie-cutter advice from coaches and books, believing that if they read “always 3bet x hands” or “check-raise your flush draws,” they will be winning. Unfortunately, every spot is unique and these lines of play are not optimal for all situations.

In poker, each round of betting begins when a player places chips into the pot. The player to their left must either “call” that amount by putting the same number of chips into the pot, raise that amount, or drop (“fold”) out of the hand.

After the initial betting round, the dealer puts three cards on the table that everyone can use. This is called the flop. The player with the best five-card poker hand wins the pot.

Note that if two players have identical poker hands (e.g., ace-king of the same suit), they are tied. This is because suits have no relative rank in poker. As you learn more about poker, these numbers will become ingrained in your brain and you’ll develop an intuition for things like frequencies and EV estimation.