The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players wager money on their hands. It is played in private homes, at poker clubs, and in casinos around the world. The rules are different for each variant.

The objective of poker is to hold the best five-card hand possible at the end of a round of betting, known as the showdown. This hand can range from a high card up to a Royal Flush.

There are many variations of poker; the most common are Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo, and Seven-Card Stud. All of these games share some common elements, and require some understanding of the fundamentals.

Before a hand is dealt, each player must place a small amount of chips called an ante into the pot. This provides a value for the pot right off the bat, and encourages players to call instead of folding.

Once a hand begins, the dealer deals cards face up in turn to the first player to his left. This person is the first to act, and he must make the first bet before the rest of the players.

In turn, each player may “check” (i.e., not place a bet), “open” (i.e., make the first bet), or “fold” (i.e., drop out of the hand), losing any bets he has made. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them out in turn to the next player in turn.

The dealer then combines these bets, making the pot the total amount of money bet by all players. The pot may then be split into one or more side pots, depending on the number of all-in players.