The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players place bets (representing money) on the outcome of a hand. The game is played in casinos, in poker clubs, and over the Internet. It is considered to be the national card game of the United States, and its play and jargon have become part of American culture.

A player’s cards are dealt face down, and he places an ante in the pot before betting begins. At the end of each betting interval a player may raise his bet by any amount up to an established limit. The first player to act (as determined by the rules of the particular game) must either call or raise the bet; he may also fold his hand.

After the initial betting interval, three more cards are dealt face up to the table. The player to the left of the big blind is the first to act; he can call or raise the bet. The players to his left who remain in the hand then act in turn by checking or raising their bets.

A poker hand consists of five cards, including two personal cards known as hole cards and the remaining community cards. The highest poker hand is a Royal Flush, which contains the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 of the same suit; followed by Straight Flush (5 cards in a sequence but not in the same suit); Four of a Kind (4 matching cards of the same rank); Full House (2 matching pairs plus one unmatched card); and Pair (two distinct cards). Ties are broken by the high card.