The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game that involves betting, strategy and a little bit of luck. While the game is primarily chance, skill and psychology play a significant role in a player’s long term success.

Before a hand is dealt each player may be required to make a forced bet (this is called an ante). The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them one at a time to each player beginning with the player to his/her left. Each player then places their bet into a central pot. The highest ranked hand wins the pot.

During a betting round players can check, call or raise. When a player calls he/she must either match the previous bet or raise it. A player who does not raise is said to check.

When betting gets around to you and you are holding a good hand (pocket kings or queens for example) it is often wise to raise and force weaker hands out of the hand. This will maximize the value of your good hand.

When watching a showdown remember to pay close attention to the players’ emotions. Watch for signs of a good hand, such as trembling hands or eyes that light up. Also pay attention to how the players respond to a bad beat. If they appear to take it well they probably have a lot of poker skill and a good game plan. If they seem to get upset or excited about a bad beat, then they likely have a poor game plan and lack of poker skill.