During the course of a game of poker, each player receives five cards. The highest hand wins the pot. The hand can be either a flush, straight or a royal flush. In poker, a royal flush is a hand with ten cards, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace. A straight flush is five consecutive cards of the same suit. A joker counts as the fifth ace in certain special hands.
The hand is then shown to all players, with each active player showing the entire hand. Cards are then dealt face-up in a rotating pattern to the left. The first player to the left of the button (or dealer) is the player who must make the first bet. If no one bets, then the turn passes to the left. When the first person to the left of the button makes a bet, the other players must match it. If no one makes a bet, then the hand is called a showdown. After the last bet is made, the cards are dealt again.
The first player to the left of the button is the dealer, and the other players are active players. This player is required to make the first bet, which is called a raise. If no one makes a bet, a player may bluff by betting that he or she has the best hand.
Each player is required to make a small blind and a big blind. The small blind is a bet of $1, and the big blind is a bet of $2. The blinds are forced bets, so players have something to chase. A player who does not make a blind is deemed to be a non-active player, and may not compete for the pot.
In some variants of poker, the pot is split up evenly between each active player. This is done when two identical hands are dealt, i.e. when both players have a pair of aces. However, in other variants, the pot is split up according to the odds of the hand. For example, if two players have the same hand, one player wins. This is because the odds of the hand are inversely proportional to the mathematical frequency of the hand.
In tournaments, antes are usually required. These are added to the pot before the start of the deal. These antes are not included in the first round of betting, but are used to increase the pot size pre-flop. In tournaments, antes are also used to encourage players to fight for dead money, since antes give players an incentive to take chances with dead money.
Another rule that is common in cash games is the need for a blind. A blind is a forced bet, so a player is required to put a certain amount of chips into the pot before the deal begins. In other variants, antes are not required. In tournaments, antes are often used to boost the pot pre-flop.
Poker is played with any number of players, but the ideal number of players is six to eight. This is because a player who bluffs often wins, while a player who does not bluff often loses. In tournaments, the goal is to be at the top of the chip leader-board.