The Basics of Poker


Poker is a game of chance in which players bet on the strength of their cards and compete to win the pot. Unlike other gambling games, in which money is compelled to be placed into the pot, bets in poker are made voluntarily by players who believe they have positive expected value or who are trying to bluff other players for various strategic reasons. In addition to a fair amount of luck, the game’s long-term expectations are determined by executing the most profitable actions (calling, raising or folding) on the basis of probability theory, psychology and game theory.

A hand is a group of cards that can be ranked in one of five categories: Straight, Flush, Three of a Kind, Two Pair and One Pair. Each category has different rules for breaking ties. For example, a flush beats a pair and a three of a kind beats two pairs. A high card breaks ties between hands that are the same in rank but not in suits.

Being in position means that you act last in the post-flop portion of a hand. This is extremely important because it allows you to see more of your opponents’ cards and to make bets with greater accuracy. It also gives you “bluff equity” in that you can bluff more easily against other players who may have flopped a better hand than yours. For example, say you have pocket kings and the flop is A-8-5. Then a lot of people are going to expect three-of-a-kind and you can bluff with relative ease.