A Beginner’s Guide to Poker


Poker is a game of cards in which players place bets to win the pot. Typically the first person to act in each hand must put a bet into the middle (this amount is called the “ante”). Once everyone has acted betting continues until all the remaining players have folded. The player with the highest hand wins the pot.

A winning hand in poker is made up of one or more matching cards of the same rank or three or more cards of the same suit in a sequence. A flush consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit. Four of a kind is comprised of two cards of the same rank and two other unmatched cards. When hands tie on the rank of pairs, three of a kind and four of a kind the high card outside of the hand wins.

There are 52 cards in a standard deck, divided into four suits of thirteen ranks each. The Ace is the highest card, and the 2 is the lowest.

Observing experienced players can help you learn to make quick instinctive decisions. Watch videos of Phil Ivey for example, and note how he never shows any emotion during bad beats. It’s a sign of mental toughness that many professional players possess.

A good poker strategy requires a deep understanding of probability, psychology and game theory. You also need to learn how to read other players. A lot of this is done through subtle physical “tells”, but it’s also based on patterns. For instance, if an opponent always bets he is probably playing some pretty crappy cards.