The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game where players compete to win money by placing chips (representing money) into the pot before it is their turn to act. Players must post an ante or blind bet to play, and can also say “raise” when it is their turn to bet, meaning they will add more money to the pot. This helps make the game more exciting and increases the chances of winning a hand.

Poker games use a standard 52-card pack, with some using multiple packs or adding jokers as wild cards. The cards are ranked from high to low: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. Each player can have two pairs of cards; a full house is made with three of a kind and a pair; a straight is five cards in sequence, any suits; a flush is five matching cards, with the highest being an Ace-King-Jack-Queen-Jack or better.

New players tend to keep betting with their weak hands, hoping for a miracle flop, but advanced players know what gives a starting hand potential and what they should just throw away. This allows them to bet more on their strong hands and force others to call their bets, increasing the value of the pot. This is known as playing smart. Players can learn more about the game by reading books on poker strategy, and by watching how other players behave at the table.