Poker is a game of skill and chance. Players make bets based on probability, psychology and other strategic considerations. While some bets are forced, the majority of bets are made voluntarily by players who believe they have positive expected value. These bets are collected into the pot by the player who has the best five-card hand at the showdown.
At the start of a hand one player (on rotation per game) makes a blind bet. Then the dealer shuffles and deals the cards. The player on the left of the button cuts the deck and begins betting. Once the first betting round is over the dealer puts three cards face up on the table that everyone can use, this is called the flop.
After the flop betting resumes and each player decides whether to call, raise or fold their hand. The highest hand wins the pot. The highest ranking hands are a Royal Flush (aces, kings, queens and jacks of the same suit) and four of a kind (four distinct cards of the same rank). Two pairs is also a good hand. The high card breaks ties in case of a tie between the two highest hands.
It’s important to understand the board and what your opponents are holding. If the board is full of flush cards and straights you should be wary even if you have pocket kings or queens in your pocket. Knowing the board can help you read your opponents and make more educated calls on whether to bluff or fold.