How to Play Poker


Poker is a betting card game that requires the ability to read your opponents and keep a cool demeanor while making big bluffs. The object of the game is to win the pot which is the total amount bet on a hand by all players. The best way to do this is to have a good poker hand, but sometimes you can win a pot without having the best hand by simply bluffing.

The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards (although some games may use multiple packs or add wild cards, known as jokers). The cards are ranked from high to low in the following order: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. In addition there are four suits – spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. The suit does not determine the rank of the card, but it does help to distinguish between different cards.

When it is your turn to act in a hand, you can say “call” or “raise” to add more money to the pot. The first player to act raises by putting in a bet, which all other players can choose to call or fold their hand. When you say “call” you are agreeing to match the previous raise, so if someone put in $10 before you it will be your turn to raise that amount by saying “call” or “raise.”

A pair is two cards of equal rank with three other cards that do not match these or each other. When comparing hands with pairs the highest pair wins. For example J-J-2-2-4 beats 10-10-9-9-8 because the jacks are higher.

A straight is five cards in a row, of the same suit. This is also referred to as a ‘race’, and the highest straight wins. When comparing straights the highest one wins (AKQJT9 beats KQJT9 down to 5432A). If the hand is tied the hands share the pot.

Flush is five cards of the same suit, and when comparing two flushes the highest one wins. For example, K-Q-J-9-3 beats K-Q-J-7-6-5 because the nine is higher.

Full house is a hand consisting of three matching cards and two other cards of any rank. When comparing full houses the highest hand wins. For example, A-K-Q-J-9-3 beats A-K-Q-J-7-6-5 because the aces are higher.

A high card is a single card of any rank that does not form part of a pair or a straight. High cards are often used to bluff. For example, if an opponent has pocket jacks and the flop is 7-6-2, this is considered the nuts, because it is the best possible hand at that moment. However, if the turn is a 3 or a river is a 4, then you would no longer have the nuts and someone else could take over the lead. It is important not to reveal any information about your holding after you have folded because this can unintentionally give away the strength of your hand.