The Basics of Poker

Poker is hugely popular for a lot of reasons: it’s a fun and social game; you can play it for free or real money; and there’s a deep element of strategy that will keep you interested as your skills improve. It’s important to understand the basics of the game before you start playing.

There are a few different ways to play poker, but the basic idea is the same in all of them: you win the pot (all of the bets made in one hand) by having the highest-ranked poker hand when the cards are revealed at the end of the hand. You can also win the pot by betting so aggressively that no one else calls your bets.

Before the cards are dealt, players must put in an amount of money called chips into the pot. These are forced bets that make it possible for the dealer to deal the cards. The player to the left of the dealer places the first bet, and each successive player must match or raise his or her bet. If a player doesn’t want to bet, they can “check,” which lets the next player decide whether to make a bet.

Once everyone has their 2 hole cards, the dealer deals three more community cards face up on the board. These are the flop. Then there’s another round of betting and then a fifth card is dealt face up, which is the river.