The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players make wagers with chips or cash and then compare hands. Each player places their wager into a central pot and, depending on the rules of the game, may raise or fold. The object of the game is to win the pot by having the highest-ranking hand at the end of the betting rounds.

The game can be played with as few as two people, but is most often played with six or seven players. There are many different forms of poker, but they all share certain characteristics. Most of them require a forced bet, called the ante or blind bet, before any cards are dealt; and most have a fixed limit on how much a player can raise during each betting interval.

When it is a player’s turn to act, they say “call” to match the last bet or raise, and place their chips or cash into the pot. They can also say “raise” to add more money to the pot, and then the other players must choose whether to call or fold.

The strength of a poker hand depends on the relative rank of its cards, the suits, and the number of matching cards. In most games, a straight beats any flush, and ties are broken by the highest unmatched cards or secondary pairs (three of a kind or four of a kind). In some games, wild cards may be used to make more complicated hands.