The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game played in groups of people around a table. It is fast paced and players bet continuously until one person has all the chips or everyone folds. It can be played in casinos, homes and even online.

There are many different variants of poker but all of them have the same basic rules. Before the cards are dealt each player must place an initial amount into the pot. These are called forced bets and come in the form of antes, blinds or bring-ins.

The cards are then dealt face up. There is now a round of betting starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Each player must either call the bet or raise it. A player may also check (pass on his turn to act) or fold if he doesn’t want to bet.

A pair is two matching cards of the same rank. A straight is five consecutive cards of the same suit. A flush is three or more matching cards of the same rank. High card breaks ties.

During the course of the hand it is important to read the body language of other players. This can reveal a lot about their hand strength or whether they are bluffing. Classic tells include shallow breathing, sighing, nostrils flaring, eyes watering and blinking excessively. A hand over the mouth is often used to conceal a smile and shaking hands is usually a sign of nerves.