The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game played between two or more players. It is a game of strategy that involves betting and raising to force weaker hands out. While there are many variations of poker, the rules are similar across all forms. In order to play well, it is important to grasp the basic rules and hand rankings. The game is best learned through theoretical knowledge (of the game’s rules) and practice (of bluffing, betting, and other strategies).

When it’s your turn to act in a hand, you can raise or fold your cards. If you raise, you must place chips or cash into the pot equal to the amount raised by your opponent. You can also call, meaning you’ll match the last player’s bet, or even increase it if they raise it.

There are several different poker hand rankings, depending on whether your hand contains matching cards of one rank or four or more cards of the same rank. A full house contains three cards of the same rank and two cards of another rank, while a flush consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit. A straight contains five cards of consecutive rank but from more than one suit, and a pair is made up of two cards of the same rank plus an unmatched third card.

To be a good poker player, you must be able to quickly read your opponents’ actions and make decisions. This is possible if you practice and observe experienced players to develop quick instincts.