A Beginner’s Guide to Poker

Poker is a card game in which players bet in rounds and the highest hand wins the pot. It is a game of skill and chance, but in the long run it is primarily a game of strategy. The goal of the game is to beat other players by betting when you have a good hand and by folding when you have a bad one. This requires a combination of probability, psychology and game theory.

Each player is dealt five cards and places them face down on the table. Each player then combines his or her private cards with the community cards to form a hand. The cards are grouped into categories based on their rank, suit and number of matching sides. The highest-ranking hand is a royal flush, which includes a 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit. A straight flush consists of 5 consecutive cards of the same suit. A three of a kind is 3 cards of the same rank and 2 cards of another rank. A pair is two cards of the same rank and two unmatched cards.

During the betting intervals, each player may call a bet, raise or drop. When a player raises, they must put into the pot at least as many chips as the player before them. If they cannot, they must drop and no longer compete for the pot.

Once you have mastered the basic rules of poker it’s time to start thinking about your opponents. Pay close attention to their betting patterns and try to read them. It’s important to differentiate conservative players from aggressive ones – conservative players will fold early while aggressive players will often bet high even when they have weak hands.