The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players bet on the relative strengths of their hands. The goal is to minimize losses with bad hands and maximize wins with good ones. A hand consists of five cards. The highest rank is the Royal Flush (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 of one suit). Other high hands include Straight Flush (5 cards in a row of the same suit), Four of a Kind (four matching cards), Full House (3 of a kind and a pair), and Flush (all five cards of the same suit). The game may also use wild cards (dueces, one-eyed jacks, etc).

In most games, there is an initial contribution, called an ante, to the pot from all players. After that, the dealer shuffles a standard pack of 52 cards and deals them in rotation to all players, beginning with the player to his or her left. The players then place their bets in a round or rounds of betting. The cards are usually dealt face up, but some games deal them face down.

Players can bet with chips of varying values, depending on the game. A white chip is worth the minimum ante or bet, and a red or blue chip is usually worth 10, 20, or 25 whites. Players may also bluff, by betting that they have a high-scoring hand when they don’t. If they successfully bluff, they can force other players to call their bets and lose their own chips.