Learn the Basics of Poker


In poker, each player puts in a certain number of chips into the pot before acting. This amount is called the ante. The goal is to minimize losses with weak hands and maximize winnings with strong ones. This requires the right combination of theory and practice. Eventually, you’ll develop an intuition for frequencies and EV estimations.

Basic rules

While poker games vary in structure and rules, they all share certain basic rules. These include hand ranking, betting intervals, and bluffing. In most cases, the highest hand wins the pot.

Most poker games require players to post a forced bet before the cards are dealt. This bet is called a blind or ante, and it serves to create action and build the pot in the early stages of the hand. It is usually twice as much as the minimum bet for the current hand.

Once the blinds or antes are posted, the dealer deals five cards to each player. Each player then has the opportunity to call, raise, or fold. Position at the table can greatly affect a player’s strategy. Players in late position can gather more information about their opponents’ hands and be more aggressive with their betting. They should also pay attention to the strength of their own hand. The highest pair breaks ties.


There are many different poker variants, ranging from the traditional Texas Hold’em to newer games like Badugi and Omaha Hi/Lo. Some of these are played in mixed games, combining two or more games into one, while others have unique rules that differentiate them from the rest of the poker world.

Players are dealt five cards and a single round of betting takes place. They can swap cards if they wish before the next bet, and the winner is determined by their strongest hand. Unlike Omaha Hi, this game has a low hand ranking and requires a certain level of strategy to play well.

Stud poker games involve players being dealt an incomplete set of hidden cards combined with shared face-up cards in multiple betting rounds. These include Razz and Seven Card Stud. Draw and low ball poker games also fall into this category, including Five Card Draw and Badugi. These games are typically easier to learn than their more popular counterparts, but they can still require a bit of strategy.

Betting intervals

Betting intervals in poker are a key part of the game. Each betting interval begins when a player puts chips into the pot that are equal to or more than the amount put in by the players before him. A player who bets an equal amount to the previous player is said to call, and one who puts in more than the previous bettor is said to raise.

In fixed-limit games a limit is placed on the number of times a player may raise his bet. This limit varies depending on the game. For instance, in draw poker, the limit might be two chips before the draw and four after. In stud poker, the limit is usually five before the deal and ten after the draw (and ten when a player has a pair showing). A player who wishes to remain in the game without betting can check. This is called “sandbagging.” If a player checks, his opponents will likely continue to call even with worse hands, which can lead to large pots.


Bluffing is a fundamental poker skill that can increase your expected value (EV) and profit. However, bluffing must be used carefully and in context. If done poorly, it can cause your opponents to become frustrated and play worse.

There are several factors to consider when bluffing in poker, such as the opponent’s betting patterns and their emotional state. It is also important to choose the right moment for your bluff. For example, if an opponent has already invested a large amount of money into the pot, they will be more likely to call your bluff.

In addition, it is important to use the same bet sizing for your bluffs as you do when betting with a strong hand. This will make it difficult for your opponents to exploit you. However, be careful not to over-bluff, as this can be a sign of weakness. In this case, your opponent may be able to pick up on your bluff and begin calling you with weak hands.