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The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which the players use their cards to make the best hand possible. It is played in hundreds of different variations, but the basic elements are the same: each player puts down money for betting and is dealt cards from a standard 52-card deck.

Each player is dealt one card face down (his “hole card”) and one card face up. After a betting interval, each player is dealt an additional card, called his “draw.”

The goal of the game is to make the best five-card hand using only the two cards in your hand and the three community cards on the table. If you are able to make this hand, you win the pot.

A hand made up of five consecutive cards is ranked according to its mathematical probability; the higher the rank, the better the hand. This type of hand is also known as a straight or flush, and if two or more hands have the same straight or flush, the highest-ranking hand wins.

If no high-ranking hand is available, the lowest-ranking hand wins, called the “high card.” This can break ties when two or more high hands have identical suits and a single high card.

In most poker games, the player to the left of the dealer places an initial contribution to the pot, called an ante. Once this is made, all of the other players place bets into the pot. The betting is done in rounds, with the last round being a showdown.