The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players bet based on the strength of their hands. It is played from a standard pack of 52 cards (plus jokers in some games) with cards ranked in order from high to low: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. There are four suits: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. The highest hand wins. Some games also use wild cards, which can take the rank of any card in the deck.

Before each hand, the cards are shuffled several times and then cut so that the players can’t see where the cards are in the deck. A player must do at least two mandatory bets (“blinds”) in the pot before they can play a hand. These bets encourage players to take more risks with their hands because they are betting money they don’t necessarily have to, and for strategic reasons such as bluffing.

The most common poker hands are pairs, three of a kind, straights and flushes. A pair consists of two cards of the same rank, and the third card can be either higher or lower than the first. A straight consists of five consecutive cards in sequence, but not all in the same suit. A flush is a full house of the same suit, and the player with the highest hand wins. A tie is broken by the highest unmatched card. In some cases, a hand is split, and the winnings are shared.