The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players bet on the strength of their cards and the cards that are out in the other player’s hands. It is played with a standard 52-card deck of English playing cards, usually two of which are used with different back colours and one or more wild (joker) cards. It can be played with between two and seven players.

At the beginning of each betting round, a player must put in chips (representing money) to make the first bet. Each player in turn must match or raise the amount of the previous player’s bet if they wish to stay in the hand, referred to as Calling. If they choose not to bet, they can Fold and forfeit that round of play.

Learning to look beyond your own cards and think about what other people have is a big step for beginners to take. You cannot control what they have, but you can put pressure on them by putting in large bets if you believe their hand isn’t strong enough to beat yours.

Beginners should also pay attention to how other players play, studying their body language and watching for tells. These can be subtle physical signs, such as scratching the nose or fiddling with chips, but more often they are patterns of behaviour. Someone who calls every bet for the whole night is likely to be holding a very good hand, while if they suddenly make a big raise you can assume they are on a hot streak.