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The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game played by two or more players and the winner takes all the chips in the pot. It’s easy to learn the basics, but there are many different variations and rules that can make the game more challenging.

Before a hand begins, each player must place a forced bet, either an ante or a blind bet. The player sitting to the left of the dealer (or the person holding the button) has a small blind and the player two positions to their left has a big blind. These are called “blind” bets because they are placed before the cards are dealt.

The dealer then shuffles and cuts the deck and deals each player 2 of their own cards face down. Then three community cards are placed face up in stages (called the flop, turn and river) and players begin betting.

When it’s your turn to bet you can say “call” if you want to match the last player’s bet or raise their bet. You can also fold your hand at any point if you think it’s not good enough to win.

Pay attention to the other players and their betting patterns. A lot of the advice that new players get is cookie-cutter: “always 3bet x hands” or “always check-raise flush draws”. However, every spot is unique and following these rules in all situations will make you a mediocre player. Instead, watch experienced players and try to understand their reactions so you can develop your own quick instincts.