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The Basics of Poker

The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players independently try to assemble the best hand of cards possible. It is played in countless versions and is widely popular, from small social games to professional tournaments.

The game begins with each player placing an initial contribution, called an ante, into the pot. After the first deal, betting intervals begin and may last several rounds. In each betting interval, a player may “call” (put into the pot the same number of chips as the previous bettor); “raise,” which is to put in more than the previous bettor; or “drop” (“fold”), which is to put no chips in and drop out of the betting until the next deal.

Throughout the course of each betting interval, the players’ hands develop in various ways. When all players have checked, the betting turn is over and the current bet amount is re-established.

In some variants of the game, a player who meets or exceeds the previous bettor’s bet may “split” the pot by making a second bet. In such cases, the two bets are combined into one, and the bettor’s original bet becomes part of the split pot.

In most forms of poker, the game consists of a single pack of 52 cards, though two packs are commonly used to speed the game up. The shuffled deck is then passed to the next dealer, who assembles the cards in his hand, shuffles them, and deals them to the left, one faceup at a time.