The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game with a wide variety of variants and betting rules. The object is to win the pot, which is the sum of all bets made during a hand. A player may win the pot by either having a high hand or making a bet that no one calls.

In most games, players must first ante something (the amount varies by game; in our games it’s usually a nickel) to get their cards dealt. Once everyone has their cards, the betting begins. When it’s your turn to bet, you can choose to “Check,” “Call” or “Raise” (ask for more money from the other players to stay in the round).

If your opponent is a good player, they will try to make it difficult for you to tell what kind of hand you have. They’ll watch you carefully for physical tells, study how you play and see how you react to their moves. You can use this information to help you predict what your opponent has and improve your own game.

Beginners should start out by playing relatively tight hands. Generally, this means only playing the top 20% of hands in a six-player game or 15% of hands in a ten-player game. This strategy will force weaker hands out of the pot and allow you to maximize your strong value hands.