A Beginner’s Guide to Poker


Poker is a game of cards in which the player with the best five-card hand wins the pot. Depending on the variant of poker being played, one or more players are required to make forced bets at the start of play. These bets are often in the form of an ante and/or blind bet. The dealer then shuffles the deck and deals each player a number of cards, either face up or face down, depending on the game. After the initial deal, the first of several betting rounds begins.

As the game progresses, each player must decide whether to call, raise or fold. This decision should be based on the strength of their own hand, as well as a reading of the other players’ actions. A good read in poker can come from a variety of sources, including subtle physical tells (such as scratching the nose or playing nervously with chips), facial expressions and betting patterns. A player who calls a lot but then raises frequently could be holding a very strong hand, while a player who frequently folds might be hiding something.

Whenever possible, raise when you have a strong hand and check when you have a weak hand. This will help to increase the size of the pot and force weaker hands to fold. However, you must be careful not to over-bet; there is nothing worse than having a pair of Kings beat by someone who has a lowly suited 8-4.

A basic understanding of the rules of poker is important before you start playing. For example, you should be familiar with the meaning of the different betting terms: Call – to put in the same amount of money as the player who raised; Raise – to raise your own bet by at least the same amount; and Fold – to throw away your cards and leave the game.

Once the betting round has finished, the dealer will then deal a third card face up on the board. This is a community card that anyone can use, and is sometimes called the “flop.” The next betting round then commences.

In order to play poker, you will need a good supply of chips. Typically, a white chip is worth one unit of the minimum ante or blind bet; a red chip is worth five units; and a blue chip is worth 10 or 20 units. Some games of poker are played with fewer than seven players; in these cases, players should buy in for the same amount of chips. Each player must also agree to a set of rules for the game, such as how many cards are dealt and when they must be revealed. The game should be stopped if the rules are broken.