Depending on the rules of the game being played, players may be required to place an initial amount of money into the pot, called an ante or blinds. Each player then has the option to call that bet with a hand or raise it. This allows players to minimize their losses with weak hands and maximize their winnings with strong ones.

The highest ranking poker hands consist of a royal flush (four matching cards of the same rank) and the straight flush (five consecutive matching cards of one suit). The second highest hand is three of a kind, followed by two pairs and then high card. The high card breaks ties in case of equal hands.

Each player aims to make the best five card poker “hand” from their own two cards and the five community cards. If no one else has a better hand, that player wins the pot/all bets. If one or more players “call” the earlier raiser’s raise, then their cards are revealed for everyone to see and the winning hand is determined.

While a poker story can be told through the actions of individual players and their reactions to the cards they receive, the real drama comes from the interactions between them. Watching experienced players play and imagining how you would react to their moves can help you develop your own instincts for the game. Then try out your own techniques in a practice session.