How to Play Poker

Poker is a card game of skill where luck plays a small role in the outcome of the hand. The best poker players understand and apply a variety of skills that increase their chances for long term success, including patience, reading other players, proper position and understanding bet sizes.

A standard 52-card deck is used with the addition of one or two jokers (also called bug). The joker can be used as an ace or to complete a flush, straight or certain special hands. A full house is three matching cards of the same rank and two matching cards of another rank. A straight is five consecutive cards of the same suit. A three of a kind is two cards of the same rank plus two unmatched cards. A pair is two distinct cards of the same rank. High cards break ties.

The first step in playing a poker hand is the deal, when each player receives five cards face up from the dealer. Each player then places an ante into the pot before betting. After each round of betting there is a showdown where the players reveal their cards and the winning hand is declared.

Pay attention to your opponents’ body language when they make a decision about their poker hand. Look for a big smile, thumping chest or head, flaring nostrils and rapid breathing as signs of excitement. Glance at their chip stacks to see how much they have invested in the pot.