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The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players make wagers, or bet, based on the strength of their hand. The highest hand wins the pot, which contains bets made by each player during a betting round. Poker can be a game of chance, but it also requires skill and psychology to win.

Poker games usually start with an ante (the amount varies by game, ours is a nickel) and then players are dealt cards, which they keep hidden from other players. When betting starts, each player in turn either calls a bet (puts into the pot the same amount as the raiser) or folds.

Each round of betting in a poker game lasts until the fifth and final card is dealt face up — this is called the river. The highest five-card hand wins the pot, which consists of all the bets placed during the previous rounds.

At the end of a poker game, players often establish a fund, or “kitty,” that is used to buy new decks of cards and pay for food and drinks. Each player who wants to cut the kitty must offer a low-denomination chip, such as a white or red chip. If the kitty is empty when the game ends, any remaining chips are divided evenly among the players who remain in the poker game. In this way, the kitty prevents players from simply leaving the table with the most money. It also helps ensure that the most experienced players can identify conservative players from aggressive players.