The Basics of Poker


Poker is a game of chance, but it also requires a certain amount of skill and psychology. The game can be played by a single player or by a group of players, depending on the variant. The basic goal of the game is to win the “pot,” which is the total sum of all bets placed in a particular hand.

The game starts with an ante (an amount that varies by variant, but is usually a nickel in our games). This allows the players to replace cards as they shuffle and draw them, and to bet into the pot when their hands are dealt.

Betting continues until each player has either matched the amount of the largest raise or folded, at which point the next betting round, called the “flop,” begins. The dealer deals the flop, which contains one card for each player in the hand.


The standard hand in most games is 7-5-4-3-2 in two or more suits. However, in some games the ace may optionally be treated as the lowest card, making 6-4-3-2-A the lowest possible hand.

Other hands are pairs (two of the same cards), flushes (five cards of the same suit), straights, three of a kind (three cards of the same rank and two of different ranks), fours of a kind, fives of a kind, and a full house. Ties are broken by the highest unmatched card or by a secondary pair. The best possible hand is a pair of aces.