The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game with simple rules that can be played in glitzy casinos, seedy dives and everywhere in between. The rules vary somewhat between games but generally players put in a small bet called a blind or an ante before being dealt cards. The highest hand wins the pot.

Poker players can be conservative or aggressive. The conservative players fold early, only staying in a hand when they have good cards. Aggressive players bet high in the early stages of a hand and can often be bluffed out of a good one.

A basic poker hand consists of any five cards of the same suit (clubs, hearts, diamonds or spades). The highest hand is a royal flush with a 10, Jack, Queen and King of the same suit. Other common hands include a straight, 4 of a kind and 3 of a kind. A pair is two cards of the same rank, and a high card breaks ties.

Many beginners stick to their strong starting hands, but the key to winning at poker is improving your range. If you play more hands, you will win more pots and make more money. In addition, betting is a much stronger move than calling. Calling is a weaker play because it allows opponents to see your hand before you act. Practice your range by dealing four hands of hole cards face down, then assessing which is best on the flop. Repeat this for the turn and river (or fourth and fifth streets).