The Basics of Official Poker

Whether it’s played for pennies and matchsticks or for thousands of dollars, official poker is an exciting game that requires luck and a good deal of skill. However, the decisions players make in the heat of the moment are influenced by their emotions. The goal is to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize winnings with strong ones.

In most cases, the rules of a particular game will require that each player put an initial contribution, or ante, into the pot before cards are dealt. Players may then Call, Fold or Raise (see Rule 10). A player’s hand must consist of at least five cards. In addition, some games have wild cards that can take on whatever suit and rank their possessor desires.

A standard pack of 52 cards will suffice for most poker games. Some games use multiple packs or add two jokers to the deck. All cards are ranked (from high to low) as follows: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.

In some games, it is customary for players to contribute to a special fund called the kitty. The kitty is used to pay for things such as new decks of cards and food/drinks. Any chips in the kitty at the end of a session are divided equally among players still in the game. All players are entitled to a reasonable estimation of their opponents’ chip stacks. Visible and countable stacks are recommended because they improve counting accuracy.