Poker Basics – How to Read Your Opponents

Poker is a card game played by two or more people. Players place an initial amount of money into the pot (amount varies by game) and are then dealt cards. Each player has five cards with which to make a hand of 5 – the highest hand wins.

Cards are ranked in order from highest to lowest – Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2. In some games, jokers can be used as wild cards which may take on any suit or rank.

A pair of matching cards – either the same rank or different – wins. A straight is a five card consecutive sequence, such as 4-5-6-7-8-9 down to A-K-Q-J-T. A flush is a five card combination of the same suit, such as J-8-5-3-2 spades. Three of a kind is three cards of the same rank. High card wins if hands tie.

Regardless of the type of hand you have, it is important to know how to read your opponents. This is a critical skill in the game and requires knowledge of basic psychology, reading body language and game theory. Often, many of the best reads come not from subtle physical poker tells like scratching the nose or playing nervously with chips but rather from patterns – if a player constantly calls or raises then they probably have a good hand whereas if they always fold then their hand is likely weak.