The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game that requires strategic thinking to beat other players. It’s important to understand that you can’t control the cards your opponents have but you can control how much pressure you put on them. That’s why a pro player focuses just as much on making their opponent fold as they do on their own cards.

In poker each player starts with 2 hole cards. After these are dealt a round of betting begins with the person to the left of the dealer. These mandatory bets are called blinds and are there to give people an incentive to play. After the betting is over a third card is dealt face up, called the flop. Then another round of betting happens and now the other players get a chance to make a better hand.

The best poker hands are a straight flush (five consecutive cards of the same suit, such as Ace-King-Jack-Queen) or three of a kind (2 cards of the same rank plus 2 unrelated side cards, such as two jacks). Two pair is also a good hand but not as strong as one of the others.

When playing poker it is common to use a special pot called the kitty. This pot is created by each player contributing a small amount of the low-denomination chips that they are using to play. The money in the kitty is used to pay for things like new decks of cards and food and drinks. Generally, the player with the highest hand at the end of the game gets to take the kitty.