The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players wager on whether their hand is the best. It is played with a standard deck of cards, but rules vary from country to country.

Historically, poker has roots that go back more than 1,000 years. Some historians claim it is a descendant of a domino-card game played by a 10th-century Chinese emperor; others say it is based on the 16th-century Spanish card primero, which featured three cards dealt to each player and bluffing (bet high on poor cards) as a key part of the game.

In some games, players may have to put money into a pot before the cards are dealt; these are called forced bets and come in various forms: ante, blinds, and bring-ins. While these initial bets significantly involve chance, in the long run skill plays a greater role than chance.

The game starts with two players making an ante, or initial contribution to the pot, in a predetermined amount. The first player to the left of the dealer button puts in a small bet, and the second to the right posts a big bet. The players who post the small and big blinds are obligated to put in more money, and if any of them fail to do so, all the chips that they have accumulated will be lost.

After the antes have been posted, players start betting on their hands in rotation. The antes are sometimes referred to as the “bring-ins” or “ante raises.”

When a player makes a bet, they must call by placing into the pot at least as many chips as those called; or they must raise, which requires placing more chips than those required to call. If a player calls, they lose any chips that have accumulated, but if they raise, they add those additional chips to the pot and count them as part of the winnings.

Betting intervals occur in each deal, and players must place their bets at the beginning of each betting interval. The player to the left of the current dealer must either “call” a bet by putting into the pot at least as many chips as that called; or they must “raise,” which requires putting more than enough chips into the pot to call; or they must “drop,” which means putting no chips into the pot and discarded their hand.

In each betting interval, a player may check. This means they are betting nothing, but may continue to play in the game if no one before them has made a bet in that betting interval.

If a player checks, they must remain in the game until the next betting interval. If a player raises, they must remain in the game until the previous player raises or drops out of the game.

The player who raises the most chips into the pot is the winner of the pot. This is called the “boss” of the hand. This person is responsible for deciding the final outcome of each hand and for awarding the main pot to the winning player, as well as any side pots. The boss can also decide whether to void an uncalled bet or raise by a player who raised more than the minimum bet, as well as the number of chips that should be required for that player to call.