The Basics of Poker


The basic goal of poker is to win pots of money (or chips) by taking part in rounds of betting. But there’s more to the game than that. To do well at poker you need a good understanding of the rules, and to develop your own instincts about when to play and when not to.

One of the key skills in poker is reading the other players at the table. This doesn’t necessarily mean looking for subtle physical poker tells like scratching your nose or playing nervously with your chips, but rather watching their patterns of behavior over time. For example, if a player folds their cards all the time then you can bet confidently that they’re playing a weak hand.

After the ante is placed and everyone has two cards they have the choice to call, raise or fold. A ‘call’ means that you want to put the same amount of money in as the previous player did, and a ‘raise’ means that you increase their bet. Players usually make their choices verbally, although there are non-verbal ways to communicate these things as well.

After the first round of betting is complete the dealer deals three cards face-up on the table that anyone can use, called the flop. Then another round of betting takes place. At the end of this the winner is declared by comparing hands and pushing the pot of chips to them. If no one has a high enough hand then the dealer wins the pot.