How to Play Poker Like the Pros


Poker is a game of chance, but with a significant amount of skill and psychology. The best players have several similar characteristics: they are patient, read other players well, and understand the risk-reward concept of odds. They also make smart game selection decisions and know how to play the hands that are most profitable.

Most poker games begin with a blind bet and an ante. Players put these in before being dealt cards, which they keep hidden from other players. The cards are then revealed in a betting round, called the “flop”.

The third and final betting stage is called the “turn.” During this betting round an additional community card is revealed on the table. Then, the players decide whether to continue to the “river” — a showdown with their hand — or to fold.

To win, a player must have a high pair (two matching cards of one rank) or three of a kind (three distinct cards of the same rank). A straight contains five consecutive cards of the same suit, and a flush involves any 5 cards of the same suit that skip around in rank but don’t include your two pairs. Ties are broken by the highest card, and a royal flush wins all. While it may sting to fold the pair you’ve been holding for so long, in the long run it’s far better than calling hoping for that card you need. That’s how you get sucked in.