Learn the Basics of Poker

A good poker hand can win a lot of money if the right cards come up. On the other hand, a bad hand can lose a lot of money if you keep betting. So, before you call your buddies over to play a game, make sure you understand the basic rules of the game.

A full house contains 3 matching cards of one rank plus 2 matching cards of another rank. A flush contains 5 cards of consecutive ranks. A straight contains 5 cards that skip around in rank but are all from the same suit. A pair is two cards of the same rank.

The divide between break-even beginner players and big-time winners is surprisingly small, with many of the differences resulting from simply starting to think about poker in a cold, detached, mathematical, and logical way. In particular, emotional and superstitious players almost always struggle to beat the game or to even break even.

The first step in becoming a winning player is to learn the basic rules and strategies. Then, spend as much time studying away from the table as you do playing. You should also read a few strategy books (but don’t pay too much attention to the ones that tell you what to do when you have AK, because poker evolves pretty quickly). Finally, observe other players and try to learn the nuances of their game by recognizing tells, such as fiddling with chips or wearing a watch.