The Basics of Poker


Poker is a game of chance in which players compete for an amount of money or chips contributed by the players themselves (called the pot). The basic objective is to have the best five-card hand. There are a variety of poker variants, but all share several essential characteristics.


Poker originated in North America and is now played throughout the world. It is the most popular card game in the United States and is enjoyed in casinos, poker clubs, and over the Internet.

The rules of the game vary from country to country, but in most variants a complete hand is dealt to each player and betting is allowed. The players may discard up to three cards and then take new ones from the top of the deck.

Betting is the key to poker; a player can “fold,” which means not playing this round, or “check,” which means matching the bet of another player. A player can also raise, which means adding more money to the pot and winning the round.

Bets and raises are limited to the number of chips in the pot at that time, and the player who makes a bet or raises must match or exceed the previous bettor’s total bet. If there are 10 chips in the pot, and a player bets four, that player must match or exceed the previous bettor’s bet by 4 to make a total bet of 14.

The history of poker is not entirely clear. It is believed to have descended from the French poque, which in turn may have derived from the Persian game as nas. It has also been claimed that it drew inspiration from the German pochen and French brelan, though it is difficult to determine whether any of those games are actually a direct predecessor of modern poker.