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The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game played by two or more players. There are many variations of the game, but in most forms, each player competes for the pot, which is the sum total of bets made during a particular deal. A player may win the pot by having the highest poker hand or by making a bet that no other players call. There are one or more betting intervals in each deal, and the final showdown takes place after the last interval.

Each player has two personal cards and five community cards to construct a poker hand of five. The best poker hands are high cards and pairs, which consist of two matching numbers, such as two six’s. The value of a hand is determined by the number of matching numbers and by the ranking of the highest pair.

The first player to act must either open (place a bet) or check, depending on the rules of the specific poker variant being played. If a player opens, all subsequent players must call his bet or drop. If a player drops, he must remain in the betting interval, or “sandbag,” and may not raise his bet during this time.

During the poker game, players usually establish a fund called the kitty. The kitty is built up by each player “cutting” one low-denomination chip from each pot in which there is more than one raise. Chips in the kitty belong to all players equally and are used to pay for new decks of cards and other expenses.