The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players make bets with chips (representing money) and then try to make the highest-ranking hand. The game can be played by two or more people, but the most common form is between four and six players. There are many different poker games, with the rules and strategy varying slightly between them.

A player may call a bet, put in the same amount as the person before them, or raise it. They may also “drop,” which means that they place no more chips into the pot and discard their hand. In some cases, a player may raise and then fold the same hand in succession, which is known as sandbagging.

Each betting interval is called a deal. One player, designated by the rules of the poker variant being played, has the privilege or obligation to make the first bet. Other players must either call the bet, put in more than the previous player did, or drop.

When playing poker, it’s important to understand the difference between conservative and aggressive players. The former tend to fold early and are easily bluffed by more experienced players. The latter bet high in the early stages of a hand to price out weak hands.

If you have a strong hand, it’s often profitable to raise it. This forces weaker hands to fold and increases the value of your winnings. However, if you have a weak hand, it’s generally better to fold than to risk losing all of your chips by attempting a draw.