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The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game that is played by two or more players. The game has a very high element of chance, but also requires skill and strategy. It is a great test of, and window into, human nature. If you can become a force at your table, it is both deeply satisfying and intellectually stimulating.

Once everyone has received their hole cards there is a round of betting. This is initiated by mandatory bets (called blinds) put into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. Players may call the bet, raise it or fold. If they fold, they lose the money that they had already put into the pot.

After the initial betting phase is over, 3 cards are flipped face up on the table, these are called the flop. Each player must now reveal their hand in turn. They can have a pair, a straight or a flush. The player with the highest ranking hand wins.

When playing poker it is important to be able to read your opponents. This can be done through subtle physical poker tells, but the majority of information is gained when a player is not involved in a hand. If a player is checking their cards regularly, it is likely that they are holding a weak hand. Therefore, it is advisable to either fold or raise your bets when you have a strong hand to price the weak hands out of the pot.