Poker is a game of chance and strategy that requires players to read opponents, predict odds, and maintain a cool demeanor. It requires them to be able to make big bluffs and use psychology and game theory to win, but it also teaches them how to play in a way that minimizes losses with poor hands and maximizes winnings with good ones.

The Rules

In poker, each player puts an initial contribution into the pot, called an ante, before the cards are dealt. These antes are usually small amounts, like $1 or $5.

The dealer then deals two cards to each player, keeping them secret from everyone else. Each player can then decide to “fold,” which means they do not play this round; “check,” which means they match the bet; or “raise,” which means they add more chips to the pool of betting money.

Betting Intervals

During each betting interval, the first player to act must put in a bet, and each player to the left must either call that bet by placing the same number of chips into the pot; or raise their bet by adding more than the previous bettor. The betting interval ends when the bets have been equalized, or when the last player who made a bet has called.


A poker hand consists of five cards, which rank in inverse proportion to their frequency (probability). The higher the card combination, the more likely it is to beat a specific opponent’s hand. The highest possible hand is a five of a kind, which beats any straight flush.