The Basics of Poker


The game of poker has exploded in popularity since the early 21st century, helped by online play and live broadcasts of major tournaments. But even the most successful players need to understand the basics of the game before they can win big pots.

There are hundreds of poker games, but most share some basic rules. Each player puts in a small amount of money, called a blind or an ante, before they are dealt cards. Then they can decide to either “call” (put in the same amount as the person to their left) or “raise” (put in more than the previous player). They can also choose to “drop” (“fold”), in which case they lose any chips that they have put into the pot.

Once everyone has acted in turn, the flop is revealed and the second betting round begins. At this point, any player can still call or raise, but they may not raise more than the maximum allowed by the rules of the game.

During the second betting round, good players will be looking beyond their own cards to consider what other people might have. This is known as reading the players, and it’s a crucial part of winning at poker. Typical physical poker tells include shallow breathing, sighing, flaring nostrils, blinking or swallowing excessively, and playing nervously with their chips. Reading these subtle signals isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of practice to become proficient at reading other players.