Poker is a game of chance, but it also requires quite a bit of skill and psychology. While the outcome of any given hand largely involves chance, players can significantly alter their long-run expectations through actions chosen on the basis of probability theory, psychology, and game theory.
Players ante something (amount varies by game, our games are usually a nickel) and then receive their cards. Players then bet on the strength of their hands. When it’s your turn, you can say “call” to make a bet the same as the last player, or you can raise the stakes by saying “raise.”
Once the betting phase is over, the cards are revealed. The highest hand wins the pot. A high hand is made up of two distinct pairs of cards and a fifth card to break ties.
If you’re unsure of how to play, try playing with an experienced friend or reading a book on the subject. A good starter is ‘Easy Poker’ by Matt Janda. This is an excellent book for exploring the math behind poker and will greatly improve your understanding of balance, frequencies, and ranges.
It’s also important to remember that a high hand doesn’t always win. A lot of players make the mistake of only playing their strongest hands. But top players often fast-play their strong hands, as this helps build the pot and chase off other players who are waiting for a better hand to beat theirs.