The Basics of Poker


Poker is a game of chance played with cards and chips. It is an incredibly popular game in which players compete for an amount of money contributed by their own efforts (called the pot). The winning hand is determined by a combination of cards that are dealt out randomly. There are many different versions of poker, but most have some common features.

The basic rules are that each player is dealt five cards facedown and one card faceup. The deal is interrupted for a betting interval, and the deal is then repeated for another betting interval. The dealer distributes one card faceup to each active player, and a showdown occurs after the fourth and final betting interval.

A hand of five cards is a “poker hand.” The values of each hand are in inverse proportion to their mathematical frequency; that is, the more unusual the hands, the higher their value. There are several types of poker hands, including high cards, pairs, and two pair.

High cards – These are single cards that are highest in value, such as aces or queens. They are also the most important cards in a hand, as they determine the value of other cards in the hand and determine whether the hand wins or loses.

Pairs – A pair is two cards that are the same rank, such as a pair of aces or a pair of queens. It is usually a good idea to have a pair in your hand, as they increase the chances of making a winning hand.

Ties – When two or more hands have the same rank, they break ties according to the general rules for High Cards. For example, a pair of sixes breaks a tie if it beats a pair of threes; the same applies to flushes and straights.

Three of a kind, matched with an unmatched card is called a flush; the high-ranking hand wins. In some games with wild cards, a four of a kind may break a tie when it is beaten by the highest unmatched card.

The most common and standard poker hands are:

Straight – A straight is a set of five cards in order, such as 4-5-6-7-8; the highest straight wins. The ace is sometimes considered to be high, but it cannot ‘wrap around’ and thus must have the same value as a straight that includes a non-ace.

Full house – A full house is a poker hand that is made up of three cards of one rank and two cards of a different rank, such as three aces and two sixes.

Flush – A flush is a set of five cards in the same suit, such as J-8-5-3-2. The highest flush is a straight flush, but in some games the ace may be treated as a high card and thereby make a 6-4-3-2-A the lowest possible flush.

The highest hands are aces and kings; if these two hands tie, the ace breaks the tie. Other hands with identical rank may break ties by having secondary pairs; in a full house, these can be aces or a king.

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