The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players make an initial contribution to the pot (the amount of which varies by game) and then place bets into it in turn. The highest hand wins the pot.

The cards are dealt face up or down, depending on the variant being played. Each player has two personal cards and five community cards to create a poker hand. Typically the best hand is made by having one of the following combinations:

In some games the joker, known as the bug, counts as the fifth card in certain hands. In the standard 53-card pack it can count as a fifth ace, in a flush (five of the same suits), a straight, or certain other special hands.

A poker player may choose not to place any chips in the pot, or he may raise his stake. In this case he is said to be calling. A player who calls a bet must make up the difference between his own stake and that of the last player to call.

It is important to be aware of the cards other players have in their hands, as well as studying their body language for tells. This will help you decide whether or not to call their bets. If you are holding a strong hand, you can increase the value of your pot by raising your bets, forcing weaker hands to fold. This is called bluffing. However, a strong poker player is not afraid to call even the strongest bluffs, as long as they are made with good reasons.