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The Basics of Poker

Poker is a betting card game that combines strategy, mental acumen and the ability to read one’s opponents. The game has many variants, but most of them involve placing a forced bet at the start of a hand, called the blind or ante, which players must place before being dealt cards. After the betting interval, each player shows their cards and the best poker hand wins the pot.

A standard 52-card pack, with or without one or two jokers, is used in most games. One pack is dealt to each player in turn, face up, until a jack appears, which designates the first dealer. Each player then has the privilege or obligation, depending on the game rules, of either calling the bet (putting into the pot the same amount of chips as his predecessors) or raising it. If a player does not call the bet, he “drops” and is out of the betting until the next deal.

The betting intervals in a poker game typically last for two to three rounds. During this time, each player can put in as many or as few chips as he wishes. If he raises the bet, other players may call it, or they can increase their own raises. A player who puts in no chips at all, or folds his hand, is out of the betting for that hand and cannot compete in the final showdown. When a player drops, he forfeits any rights to the original pot and also gives up his right to any side pots that might have been created during the hand.