The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players place bets on the strength of their hand. Players may also bluff to win the pot, but this requires skill and luck. The game has a variety of rules that vary by game variation and the specific cards dealt.

The game usually involves betting in one round, and a showdown where all the hands are revealed. In most games, the highest-ranked hand wins the pot. Players may bluff to improve their chances of winning by deceiving other players into believing they have the best hand.

A poker hand comprises five cards. The value of the hand is in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency, so a high-frequency hand has lower value than a low-frequency hand. Most games have a standard deck of 52 cards, but some may use multiple packs or add wild cards (jokers) to the mix.


The player to the immediate left of the dealer, who shuffles and deals the cards. This player has first action on the preflop and is generally in a good position postflop. Learn more about positioning in our guide on How to Play in Position.


A duplicate card on the board that greatly devalues a player’s hand. For example, if you have a pair of sixes in your pocket and the flop is A-ace-7-4, then you’ve been “counterfeited” because there are two better pairs on the board now. This can be devastating for your chip stack.