Poker is a game of chance and skill, played in various forms throughout the world. It is played in private homes, in poker clubs, and in casinos. It is also popular over the Internet.
Poker comes in hundreds of variants, but all share certain essential features: a hand containing five cards; a bet that matches the value of the hand or exceeds it; and a player’s obligation to call or raise the bet. Two or more identical hands (called “tie”) divide the pot equally, and a player with an inferior hand may win by bluffing (by making it appear that she has a superior hand).
Players make bets in several rounds of betting. At the start of each round, each player is dealt a card face down. Each player may then fold, check, or call a bet to participate in that round. If no player calls, the dealer “burns” one card from the top of the deck and deals the first three community cards (the “flop”) to the table.
The flop consists of a combination of the first three cards to be dealt, and each player uses these cards along with his own pocket cards to make the best possible hand. The hand is then revealed to the other players, and the winner takes the pot.
Rank of poker hands
A standard poker hand is made up of five cards, with the value of the hand in inverse proportion to its frequency in the deck. In a game of Texas hold ’em, the highest possible hand is five of a kind, or a royal flush, which beats any straight flush and fours of a kind.
High-card hands, which are made up of two or more cards higher than the king, are often considered to be more valuable than low-card hands, which are made up of any card lower than the jack. The same is true for pairs and threes of a kind, although these types of hands are not necessarily the strongest.
Jokers, wild cards, are sometimes added to the deck for poker games. They can be used as wild cards or to add extra strength to other hands, such as a pair of kings.
Kickers, extra cards that don’t directly formulate a hand but are still relevant, such as a straight, a flush, or a royal flush, are also included in the deck. If two players have the same hand, their best kickers will split the pot.
Blinds and bring-ins
In some forms of poker, players are required to put money into the pot before the cards are dealt. The player to the left of the dealer, called the small blind, puts in a small amount of money; the player two positions to the left, the big blind, puts in a larger amount.
Before a player can see his cards, the dealer burns a card from the top of the deck and deals this card facedown to the table. The dealer also deals the first three community cards (the “flop”) faceup to the table.