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The Basics of Poker

The Basics of Poker

Poker is a family of card games in which players wager over which hand (group of cards) is best according to specific rules. These rules vary according to the variant being played, but a basic set of principles applies in most forms.

The game is played with a standard deck of 52 cards, although there are a number of variations that use shorter packs or differ from the basic set. In most games, the player with the lowest hand begins play, and play proceeds clockwise around the table until everyone has had a chance to bet or fold.

A poker hand consists of five cards, the value of which is in inverse proportion to the frequency with which they appear in combination. The highest-ranking poker hand wins.

If two or more hands tie, the high card breaks ties. This is done for pairs, flushes and straights.

Another common way to break ties is for each hand to have a distinct pair, three of a kind or four of a kind, regardless of the suit. In some odd games, such as four of a kind with wild cards, the high card outside each pair breaks ties.

In a few variants, players may also be required to make a contribution to the pot before the deal, called an ante. In each betting interval, the first bettor must bet at least the ante; in later intervals he may check or raise his bet.