The Official Poker Rules

Poker is a card game that involves betting and combining cards to form a hand. The rules of poker vary slightly by game and variant, but a basic set of principles are universally applicable to all games. Players must balance minimizing their losses with bad hands while maximizing their winnings with good ones. Using these skills, players compete for a large prize pool of money distributed according to the percentage of the field they finish in a tournament.

In addition to the standard 52-card pack, some games utilize one or two jokers as wild cards. This adds to the fun and can also help speed up play. Generally, a player’s first two cards are dealt face down and may be referred to as hole cards. The player’s remaining cards are referred to as the community cards.

Before the cards are dealt, players must place an initial contribution into the pot, called the ante. This contribution is normally a small amount. Depending on the game, the players may have to raise their stakes in later betting rounds if they want to bet big.

In the case of a game with a fixed number of players, the dealer deals everyone two cards each. The player to the left of the button must place a forced bet before the action begins and the other players may opt to do so as well. By unanimous or majority agreement, the players may establish a special fund to cover costs such as new decks of cards and food and drink. The fund is commonly referred to as the kitty and is split equally among the players who are still in the game at the end of the session.