The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game played in several variants. The goal of the game is to get a poker hand, or combination of cards that best represents your cards in order to win the pot. Each player has the opportunity to call, raise or fold at any time during a betting interval in accordance with the rules of the poker variant being played.

Once the initial round of betting is complete the dealer deals three additional cards face up on the table. These are called the flop. Then each player must place chips into the pot equal to the amount placed in by the player before him. If no one wants to call he can fold and lose only his original investment.

During the rest of the hand players can bet or check depending on their individual strategy and the strength of their cards. It is important to learn how to read other players and their behavior. Many poker “tells” are subtle and may include scratching an itch or playing with nervous hands, but the majority of reading is done by studying patterns in how they play their cards and how much they call and raise.

It is also important to know what kind of hands beat what. A flush beats a straight and three of a kind beats two pair. These are very basic rules but they can mean the difference between winning and losing. There are also many different poker strategies that players use, from ultra-conservative to loose aggressive, and the best ones constantly tweak their strategy based on experience.