Poker is a card game in which players form hands using five cards. The highest hand wins the pot. A player may raise, call or fold during the course of a hand. Some games require players to make forced bets, called “blind” bets. These bets are placed into a central pot before the deal.

A poker hand is ranked according to its suit and rank (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9; no other suit ranks higher than A). Some games also use wild cards or jokers. A poker hand can consist of a pair, three of a kind, four of a kind, straight or flush. The best poker hands are Royal Flush (A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit); Straight Flush (five consecutive cards of the same suit); Four of a Kind; Three of a Kind; Two Pairs; and High Card.

A common saying is to “play the player, not the cards.” This means that a poker hand is often good or bad only in relation to what other players are holding. For example, you could have a pair of kings, but the flop comes up A-K and now your kings are losers 82% of the time! Being able to read your opponents is key to success in poker. This is a skill that can be developed by practicing and learning to observe your opponents’ actions. This includes watching the way they handle their cards and chips, their mood shifts and other tells.