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The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game whose rules vary widely depending on the variant being played. Almost all forms of poker involve betting, and the highest hand wins. The game may be played with one or more packs of cards, and a standard 52-card deck is typically used (although some games use multiple stacks or add extra cards called jokers).

In most games, players must first put in an ante—an amount ranging from a nickel to a dollar—to be dealt a hand. Once everyone has acted, they must decide whether to play their hand or fold it. If they play their hand, they must place a wager equal to their ante. If they want to raise the ante, they must say “raise” before betting again.

A player’s decision about whether to bluff is crucial, because opponents will know how often he or she has a good hand and will be less likely to bluff against him or her. However, pursuing safety in poker can lead to a lack of winning hands; you must balance risk and reward to maximize your potential.

In the game, each player is dealt two personal cards and five community cards. A round of betting follows, and at the end of the round, the players show their cards. The highest hand wins the pot. The ranks of hands, starting with the highest, are Royal Flush (A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit); Straight Flush (five consecutive cards of the same suit); Four of a Kind (four cards of the same number or picture); Full House (three of a kind and a pair); and High Card.