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The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players wager on the outcome of a hand. Each player is dealt a complete hand of cards, and the best hand wins the pot, which is the pool of bets made by players. There are many different variations of poker, differing in the number and type of cards used, how the hands are ranked, and the rules for betting.

Before the cards are dealt, each player must make a forced bet, which is called a blind bet. Then the cards are dealt, face up or face down, according to the variant of the game being played. At the end of each betting interval (usually two or more) all remaining players show their hands and the winner takes the pot.

The best poker hands are Royal Flush (A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit); Straight Flush (five consecutive cards of the same suit); Four of a Kind (four cards of the same rank); Three of a Kind; Pair (two different pairs); and High Card. In some games, a high-ranking pair can beat a low-ranking one, but this is not true in all poker variants.

Players often establish a fund for raising bets, called the kitty. The kitty is usually built by “cutting” (taking one low-denomination chip from the pot every time there is more than one raise). The chips in the kitty belong to all the players equally, and the money in it can be used to pay for new decks of cards or food and drinks for the players.