The Basics of Poker Strategy

Poker is a card game in which each player has two cards (sometimes called a “hand”) and five community cards. Players aim to make the best 5-card hand possible with these shared cards. The player with the highest hand wins the pot – all of the chips bet so far, without showing their cards.

The game is played with incomplete information, so players have to work with bits of information that their opponents give away through their actions. Every check, call, raise or fold tells a story about what type of hand the player has. In addition, the way a player says these things reveals what sort of story he is trying to tell.

Each player puts a amount of money into the betting pool when it is his turn to act. This is done by saying “call,” meaning he wants to place the same amount of money in the pot as the last person did. He may also say “raise,” adding more money to the pot and forcing all players who have yet to fold to choose whether to call or not.

A key to poker strategy is understanding the risk versus reward of each bet. You have to be able to calculate the odds of hitting your desired draw on the flop, and then multiply that number by four in order to get your percentage odds on the turn and river. You should also understand when to fold after a bluff and when not to.

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