The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game played between two or more players. It is a game of skill and the object is to minimize losses with poor hands while maximising wins with good ones. A number of variations exist, and most are played in casinos or card rooms. Some games have specific rules and others are informal, but all involve betting. Players may also use their hands or chips to protect the cards they hold.

The game was first recorded in the 1830s and appears to have been a development of Brag, its three-card British counterpart. It was later influenced by draw and grew to incorporate five-card hands, giving rise to the flush and other additional combinations.

A standard pack of 52 cards is used for most games, although some players prefer to utilize two packs with contrasting colors in order to speed the deal. The previous dealer assembles the cards from the pack he has dealt and then shuffles them ready for the next deal.

Some games are characterized by a specific structure, such as high-low poker (first mentioned in 1903). In this game the pot is divided equally between the highest and lowest hands.

Players must place an initial contribution to the pot, called the ante, before they receive any cards. This amount varies depending on the rules of the game being played and the type of tournament. The amount is usually paid in chips, which represent a nominal dollar value. Most tournaments report chip counts by prefacing the number with T$, which stands for “Tournament Dollars.”