The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players try to make the best possible hand. The game is governed by the rules of probability, psychology, and game theory. The game is played with chips (usually red, white, black, blue, or green) and a deck of cards.

The game starts with a deal of cards facedown to each player, followed by a betting interval. After each betting interval, there is a showdown in which the hole cards are revealed and the best poker hand wins the pot.

During a betting interval, a player may either “call” the previous bet by placing the same number of chips in the pot; or “raise,” which means putting more chips in the pot than the last bettor; or “drop,” which means putting no chips into the pot and discarding the hand. The betting interval ends when the last bettor has dropped or when all players have checked.

Before the first deal, each player is required to place a contribution into the pot, called an “ante.” The amount of the ante is decided by the table, and each bet or raise is limited to the total of the chips in the pot at that time. This limit protects players from large bets that are impulsive or made solely to bluff others, while still providing an incentive for them to raise the pot and play the hand carefully.