The Basics of Poker


A betting card game that mixes skill, patience and the ability to read opponents.

Poker is a popular form of gambling, played in private homes, casinos and online. While many people have negative opinions about the sport, it is a skill-based game that is enjoyed by millions of players around the world.

Almost all poker games begin with an ante, which is the minimum amount of money that must be placed into the pot before any cards are dealt. This is followed by a betting interval, and a showdown.

The betting interval is then repeated, with each player to the left of the dealer having the option of “calling,” which means placing the same number of chips into the pot; or “raising,” which is putting more than the ante in the pot; or “dropping,” which is putting no chips into the pot and discarding their hand.

Raise: When you raise your chips, you add more to the pot and increase your chances of winning the hand. It also gives you more opportunities to hit a good flop by matching your opponent’s bet.

Calling is one of the newbie’s favorite plays, but it can be weak when you’re playing against tight players who don’t play much. It’s best to avoid it as much as possible unless you are short stacked or have very high card strength. The reason is that when you call, you give your opponents very enticing pot odds to join the action with their good hands, so you won’t win as often.