The Basics of Poker
Whether played socially for pennies or matchsticks or professionally for thousands of dollars, Poker is a game of chance and skill. The rules of Poker vary slightly from variant to variant, but there are certain core principles that all players must abide by in order to play correctly.
The first step to mastering the game is gaining a good feel for the different betting patterns. Seeing the unconscious tells of an opponent will help you, but don’t overestimate their importance. In fact, you’re much better off focusing on the conscious things that players do at the table: observing their betting pattern and timing. Using the information you gather from this will allow you to categorize players and make predictions about their hand strength.
Each player must put into the pot a number of chips (representing money) equal to or greater than the total contribution of every player that preceded him. This is called “calling” a bet. A player may also raise a bet, which is referred to as raising. Those who call or raise must continue to do so for the rest of the betting interval, or drop.
There are typically two or more betting intervals for each Poker deal, and when the final interval ends there’s a showdown. The player with the best Poker hand wins the pot. To find out which hands are the strongest, take a look at our Which Hand Wins Calculator. During the showdown, each remaining player displays their cards face up on the table.