The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players bet on the strength of their hands. Each player has two personal cards and five community cards that may be used to make a hand of five; the value of a hand is in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency, which means that a rare combination of cards is more valuable than one that occurs commonly. Players may also bluff, in which case they attempt to win by betting that they have the best hand when they do not.

A player begins the game by placing an amount of money (called a “blind”) in the center of the table, known as the “pot.” Players then place bets into the pot in turn, with each player being required to place at least as much in chips or cash as the previous player’s contribution. The highest hand wins the pot.

Before betting, each player must decide if they want to keep their cards in their hand or exchange them for replacements. If they decide to do the latter, they must pass their cards to the dealer face-down so that the other players cannot see them.

Tells, which are the telltale tics of other players’ emotions, are useful in big-bet games, but are less effective in limit play. The key to success in poker is knowing how to handle your emotions, and not letting them control you.