How to Play Poker

The game of poker involves betting and raising a hand based on the strength of your cards. It’s a game of luck and skill in which players try to form the strongest possible hand from their personal cards (pocket cards) and the community cards that are revealed in each betting round. Players can also discard and draw replacement cards to strengthen their hands as they play the game. The player with the highest hand at the end of the betting rounds wins the pot.

The first step in playing poker is to buy a certain number of chips (typically 1 or more white chips). Each player must then place these in the center of the table, where they are collectively called the pot. Depending on the rules, there are often forced bets to start the action (ante and blind). The dealer then shuffles the cards, cuts them, and deals each player two cards face-down and one card face-up. Depending on the variant of poker being played, players may be allowed to exchange or replace their cards before the first betting round.

During the betting rounds that follow, each player either calls a bet by placing the same amount of chips into the pot as the player to their left or raises it. The raised bet must be at least as much as the bet that was called before it. A player can also choose to “drop” (fold) and forfeit their chips in the pot.