The Basics of Poker


In poker, players wager against each other on the value of their hands of five cards. The player with the highest ranked hand wins the pot – all of the money bet during that round. The game’s success is largely determined by the decisions made by individual players on the basis of probability, psychology, and game theory. Generally speaking, emotional and superstitious players lose or break even while players that approach the game in a cold, mathematical, and logical way make significant profits over time.

Once all players have 2 hole cards, a betting interval (or round) begins with 2 mandatory bets (“blinds”) placed into the “pot” by the two players to the left of you. Each player can then choose to call that bet, raise that bet (putting into the pot as many chips as the previous player) or fold their hand and drop out of that betting round.

If you have solid cards like AQ before the flop, it’s better to bet big than small. This reduces the number of people who will call your bet and makes it less likely that someone else will beat you with an unlucky flop.

Bluffing is an integral part of the game but as a beginner, it’s usually best not to get too involved in this until you have relative hand strength down pat. The two emotions that can kill your poker game are defiance and hope – the desire to hold on to a bad hand in the hopes that it will improve, or to keep betting against strong hands in the hopes that you’ll hit a miracle card.