The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game that involves betting among players. The rules are different for each variation, but most of them share the same basic structure: each player puts in an ante and then is dealt five cards. Players then make bets, usually in chips or money. The highest hand wins the pot. Ties are broken by examining the high card, but also by looking at the number of pairs and other combinations (a pair of two distinct cards is better than one pair; three of a kind is worse than a flush).

The first player to place in a bet, or to raise, is known as the ante holder or the button. The player to his or her left is the next in turn, and so on. Each player must place a bet equal to the amount placed by the player before him or her. This is called “calling.”

Strong value hands should be played aggressively to maximize their strength. However, it is important to balance this against the possibility that the opponent is calling because of a drawing hand and is bluffing. In general, draw hands should be played conservatively, unless the pot odds and implied odds work in their favor.