The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game played with two or more players. It has a rich history going back centuries, and it continues to grow as an international pastime today. There are many variations of the game, but all of them have certain essential features. The game is won by having the highest-ranking poker hand or by making a bet that no other player calls. Players may also bluff, betting that they have a good hand when they do not.

A round of betting begins once each player has received his or her two hole cards. Then, a single additional card is dealt face up. The player to the left of the dealer places a mandatory bet, called a blind, into the pot before the deal. This bet is made so that there is an incentive to compete for the poker hand.

The highest poker hand is a royal flush, which consists of four matching cards of the same rank and five consecutive cards of the same suit. The second highest hand is a straight, which consists of five consecutive cards of the same rank in a single suit. A full house is the third highest hand, consisting of three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank, or two pairs.

The earliest contemporary references to Poker appear in 1836 in J. Hildreth’s Dragoon Campaigns to the Rocky Mountains and in the reminiscences of Joseph Cowell, who cited it being played on riverboats on the Mississippi by 1829. It was probably around this time that Poker was modified to use 52 cards to accommodate more players and to introduce the draw.