The Basics of Poker


A poker game is played by two or more people. The goal is to win a pot, the total of all bets made during one deal. Players can place bets by putting chips into the pot, or they may call the bet of another player. In addition, players can bluff by betting that they have a better hand than they actually do. A good poker player knows how to read the other players and their betting patterns.

The name “poker” comes from its culturally French heritage, with the term derived from the French word poque. There are countless variations of the game, but most have similar rules. A poker game can be played with any number of players, but it is usually best with six or seven people. It can be played with a standard 52-card pack, or a variant that includes the joker (also called the bug). The joker counts as a wild card and can be used to make a flush, a straight, or certain other special hands.

Unlike most other card games, poker has no fixed amount of money that each player must put into the pot. Instead, each player can choose to either match the stakes of the previous active player by calling a bet; raise it, by putting in an additional amount of money; or drop out of the betting by folding his or her cards. When a player drops, he or she forfeits any chips in the pot.