Essential Features of Poker


Poker is a game of skill in which players attempt to make the best possible hand using only their own cards and the cards on the table. The player with the best hand wins.

Poker can be played in a variety of variants, each with its own rules. All share certain essential features.

1. ante, big blind and small blind

Before the deal, each player may be required to make a contribution to the pot, called an ante. This is usually a fixed amount, but it can be changed by the dealer.

2. betting intervals, calling and raising

In each betting interval one or more players must place in the pot a predetermined number of chips (representing money, for which poker is almost invariably played) to make their total contribution to the pot at least equal to the total contribution of the player before them.

3. ranks, ties and breaks

The rank of a standard poker hand is determined by its odds (probability). For example, a pair of kings is not bad, but it’s not good either. A straight flush beats any four of a kind, and three of a kind beats two pairs.

4. bluffing and winning

Bluffing is a primary feature of poker, distinguishing it from other vying games and from other games that use poker hand rankings. When one player bets that he has a superior hand, other opponents must call (match) the bet or fold, which ends the hand and the bettor is awarded the pot.