Poker is a card game in which a player must call (i.e. match), raise (i.e. raise), or yield (i.e. fold) the wager in many variations around the world. It is most popular in North America, where it originated. It can be found in private homes, poker clubs, casinos, and on the internet. Poker has been dubbed the United States’ national card game, and the game and its lexicon have infiltrated American culture.

Despite the fact that there are countless varieties of poker mentioned in the literature on the game, they always share a few key qualities. Five cards make up a poker hand. The hand’s value is inversely related to its mathematical frequency; that is, the higher the hand rank, the more rare the card combination. Players can bet that they have the best hand, and other players must call (match) or concede the bet. Players can bluff by betting that they have the best hand when they don’t, and they can win if players with better hands don’t call the bet.

Principles of operation

There are variations of poker that can be played with two to fourteen players, but for the most part, the optimal number of players is six, seven, or eight. The objective is to win the ‘pot,’ which is the sum of all bets placed by all players in a deal. You can win the pot by having the best poker hand or by betting that no one else will call your wager. Almost all types of poker follow the same set of rules.


The playing cards in each of the four suits (spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs) are ranked A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A (layer only in the straight [a suit of five cards numbered consecutively] or straight flush [a suit of five cards numbered consecutively within the same suit]). 5-4-3-2 -A, as well as certain variants listed below).

Rank of Poker Hands

Standard poker hands are ranked according to their odds (chance). When two or more identical hands are tied, the rewards are split equally. In poker, the suits have no relative ranking. The highest conceivable hand with a joker is five of a kind, which beats any straight flush. There can be identical fours of a kind or threes of a kind when there are numerous wild cards, in which case the tie is broken by the highest mismatched cards or secondary pairs (in a full house [a five-card hand consisting of three of a kind and a pair]).


Each player picks a deck of cards at the start of the game and deals one card to the left at a time until a jack appears. The first dealer is the player who receives that card. From player to player, the turn-to-deal and turn-to-bet always go to the left. Any player may shuffle the cards after each deal, with the dealer having the last say. For a cut, the dealer must offer the shuffled package to the appropriate opponent. Any other player may cut if that player refuses to cut.