The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players bet into a central pot and try to make the best hand using their two personal cards and five community cards. The player with the best hand wins the entire pot.

The game starts with each player putting in an amount of money (called a bet) called the “ante.” This amount is usually set by the rules of the variant being played. The ante may be placed by any player, or it may be forced into the pot by one or more players before the cards are dealt.

After the antes are placed, each player is dealt 2 cards face-down. These are the player’s hole cards, which he hides from other players. The dealer then deals 3 cards, called the flop, face-up at the center of the table.

When the flop is dealt, each player then uses these three cards and his or her hidden personal cards to make a 5-card poker hand. The hand can be a straight, flush, full house, four-of-a-kind, or three-of-a-kind.

Depending on the variant of the game, each player can also discard and draw replacement cards. When a player discards, that card is returned to the deck and shuffled by the dealer.

When it’s your turn to act, you say “call” or “I call” to match the last bet or raise made. You may also place your own bet to increase the size of the pot.