Poker is a card game of chance in which players wager chips or cash on their chances of getting a good hand. The player with the highest hand wins the pot. A player may also bluff with a weak hand to force others out of the pot.
When the betting period for a hand begins, the player to the left of the dealer places one or more chips into the pot and then decides whether to “call” (match) the bet made by the previous player; raise it (“raise”) by putting in more than the last person did; or drop it (“fold”) by leaving the table for the rest of the hand without placing any chips in the pot. Saying “call” or “I call” means you match the last bet and put the same amount of money into the pot.
Typically, players with the highest cards win the pot, followed by two pair (two matching rank cards and three unrelated side cards), three of a kind (three distinct cards of the same rank), straight, flush, and full house. The highest pair breaks ties. A high card (usually an ace) is used to break ties in cases where no other hands are of the same rank or better.
Many poker books written by pro players advise that you should only play strong hands in order to maximize your chances of winning. However, this is often an unrealistic approach, especially if you’re playing for fun. You can have fun at the table by learning to bluff and playing strong hands when they’re there, but don’t miss out on potential value just because you want to stick to the strategy that works for the pros.