The Official Poker Rules

Poker is a card game played by two or more players. It is one of the few card games that requires a great deal of skill, not just luck. Minimizing losses with poor hands and maximizing wins with good ones are the primary goals of a successful poker player.

A standard pack of 52 cards plus two jokers is used for most games of poker. Each card has a rank (high to low) and a suit (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs). In most poker games, the highest hand wins. Some games also include wild cards, which can take any suit or rank the gamer wishes. In some cases, the game will specify which cards are wild (dueces, for example).

Regardless of the rules of a particular poker variation, all players must place an initial contribution into the pot before each betting round. This is known as the ante. Depending on the rules of the poker game, this may be a small or large amount. The amount of money in the pot at the end of each poker hand is determined by the size of the bets made.

It is recommended that players use their hands or another object to protect their cards from being seen by other players during the betting rounds. This is called protecting your hand and it is a vital part of the game. It is considered unsportsmanlike to expose your cards during a hand. A player who intentionally does this will be penalized.