The Basics of Poker



Poker is a card game played by a group of players around a table. It requires skill to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize wins with strong ones. It is a fast-paced game where players bet continuously until one has all the chips or everyone folds. The cards are dealt by a dealer, who is often called the “dealer.”

Each player begins with two hole cards. There is a round of betting after each deal, based on mandatory bets (called blinds) placed into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. These bets create an incentive to play, as well as help ensure that the pot has value even if players don’t get good hands.

A player must make at least as many chips into the pot as any previous player in order to call that bet (“call”). He can also raise the bet, which means he puts in more than the amount raised by the person before him. He can also “drop” (fold) his hand, indicating that he does not wish to continue betting or to reveal his cards.

There are a number of different rules and variations for the game, including the use of anecdotes and tells (unconscious habits that reveal information about your hand). These can be as simple as a change in posture or facial expression. Good bluffing is an important part of the game, but you should balance it with betting for value and avoiding over-playing weak draws.