Poker is a very simple game to learn but hard to master without practice.

The Basics of Poker that are provided here are purely for players who have never played poker before. There are many variations of poker but they all follow the same basics of the game.

Basics of Poker

Poker is a game played with cards and chips. It's very simple to learn, but hard to master because of all the possible variations. There are many different kinds of games in poker including hold'em, omaha, and seven card stud.

Cards can be dealt face up or face down to the table, players or both. It all depends on the type of poker game being played. No matter how the cards are dealt, each player needs to try and make the best possible hand of five cards, from the cards they are allowed to use. To know if one hand beats another hand, the hands are compared against a ranking system used commonly in all poker games.

The goal of any form of Poker Game is to win money by capturing the pot. The pot is the money or chips accumulated during the play of each round (hand) of poker. The pot is placed in the center of the table and when a player wins a round, the pot is given to the winner.

During the round, a player makes a wager (bet) and places it in the pot. The player then hopes that he has the best hand (five cards), or gives the impression that he holds a strong hand to convince his opponents to fold (abandon) their hands.

Since money saved is just as valuable as money won, knowing when to release a hand (fold) that appears to be beaten is just as important as knowing when to bet.

You can win hands in two different ways:

  1. You show down (reveal) the best hand at the end of all the betting rounds. When two or more players are still active when all the betting rounds are done, they turn their hands face up. The pot then goes to the player who holds the highest hand during this showdown.
  2. All your opponents 'fold their hands' or more simply 'fold'. To fold means that a player abandons his or her claim to the pot by not matching an opponent's bet. In this case, you may have had the best hand or you may have been bluffing—it doesn't matter. When opponents surrender their claim to the pot, it's yours.

Most games require an ante or blind bet. If antes are used, each player places a small amount of money into the pot in order to have cards dealt to them.

If blind bets are used, one or more players are designated to make a bet or portion of a bet before receiving any cards. This requirement usually rotates around the table so each player pays their fair share.

Each time a round of cards is dealt, players have an opportunity to:

  1. Bet (be the first person to voluntarily put money or chips into the pot if they think they have a good hand),
  2. Call (to match, rather than add to, a prior bet),
  3. Raise (to call and then increase the prior bet)
  4. Check (to refrain from betting, reserving the right to call or raise if another player bets)
  5. Fold (forfeit interest in the pot by releasing their hand. When a player folds a hand, they are not required to place any more money in the pot.)

If a player bets or raises and no one calls, the pot belongs to that player, the cards are collected and shuffled, that round is over, and the next hand is dealt. If there are two or more players still active at the end of the hand, the best hand wins the pot.

So with each round of play, your bankroll (the amount of money you have available to bet with) will increase if you win the pot, or decrease if you lost the pot. When everyone decides to stop playing poker (or only one person has money in their bankroll) the amount in your bankroll is how much money you'll go home with.

While there are different rules for each specific version, poker really is this simple.

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