The Basics of Poker



Poker is a card game where players make bets on their hands. The object of the game is to execute the most profitable actions (call, raise, or fold) based on the information available, with the goal of maximizing long-term expected value.

There are many different variations of poker, but they all share some similarities. In most games, each player must pay an ante (amount varies by game) before being dealt cards. Once everyone has their cards, they can begin betting. When a player has a strong hand, they can bet at it to force weaker hands out of the game and increase the size of the pot.

Each hand consists of five cards. The highest hand wins the pot. In some games, there are wild cards that can take on any suit and rank. In others, the game may specify which cards are wild (aces, kings, queens, or Jacks) or which ones are not (dueces or one-eyed jacks).

A pair of distinct cards is the lowest hand in most games. If more than one hand has a pair, the higher-ranking hand wins. If no hands have pairs, then the highest high card breaks ties. If the highest card is not a pair, then the second-highest card breaks ties. Then the third-highest, and so on. If no hands have any of the above, then the ace is the highest card and breaks ties. In rare cases, a full house or straight wins the pot.