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The Basics of Poker

The Basics of Poker

Poker is a betting card game, where players try to make the best hand from a variety of cards. Although there are hundreds of variations of the game, it is based on a number of essential elements.


The first step in the game is for each player to place a forced bet, called an ante or blind. These bets must be made before the dealer deals the cards to the players.

After the antes or blinds are made, each player is dealt a hand of five cards. They can use these cards to make the best possible hand, or they can use them along with the other cards in the deck.


Each round of betting involves a series of bets from each player and can take several rounds to complete. At the end of each round, the players’ hands are revealed and a showdown occurs.

In most games, a player may exchange a large chip for its full value out of the pot before making a bet or calling an over-call, or remove a change from their own bet before raising a bet (known as splashing the pot). Splashing the pot is common in films and television depictions of the game, but it causes confusion about the amount of a raise, and can lead to the loss of a substantial amount of money.

A player can also fold by putting all of their cards face down onto the table, or they can call by placing a bet that matches the highest bet so far made. To fold, a player must bet an equal amount to their previous bet, and must not pass or call a lower amount (except where table stakes rules apply).