The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players compete to win the pot, or pot total, by having the highest-ranking hand. It has many variants and is played worldwide by millions of people. Some forms of the game have different rules, but the basic principles are the same.

Before the cards are dealt, each player must put an ante into the pot. The dealer shuffles, the player on his left cuts and then the dealer deals the cards one at a time. The cards may be face up or down, depending on the variant of the game being played. A round of betting follows, with players able to raise or call the bets made by other players.

A poker hand contains five cards of varying ranks and suits. The higher the rank of the card, the better the hand. Each player must show his hand at the end of the betting, or fold if he has a weak hand. A player may also bluff by betting that he has a superior hand, and other players must either call the bet or concede.

If a player has two matching cards of the same rank, he has a pair. Three of a kind is four cards of the same rank, and straight is five cards in a row, either in order or in suit. Flush is five cards of the same suit, and a full house is three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank.