The Basics of Poker


A game in which players place chips (representing money) into a pot, the total of which is called the “pot.” The object is to win the pot by having the highest-ranking poker hand or by making bets that no other player calls. There are many different poker variants. The most popular is Texas hold’em.

The card game was originally a game of chance, but it became more skill-based around the Civil War. Then, American innovations – such as draw poker and stud poker – helped it spread to most of the world.

Two to 14 players may play poker, although the ideal number is six or seven. Cards are dealt from a standard 52-card English deck. The deck is shuffled, and the dealer deals five cards to each player in turn, starting with the player to his left who receives the first ace. The player may choose to cut the deck before dealing.

The highest poker hand is a royal flush, which consists of a king, queen, jack and an ace of the same suit. A straight is five cards in consecutive rank but from more than one suit. Three of a kind is three cards of the same rank, four of a kind is four cards of the same rank and two unmatched cards, and pair is two cards of the same rank. The highest pair wins, but in the event of a tie the winnings are shared.