Poker has become the generic name for a range of card games where players bet on cards they hold in their hand against those of other players around the poker table. Players engage in rounds of betting to raise the value of the prize or "pot" that the winner claims following a successful showdown at the end of each round. The showdown winner is either the person with the best hand, or the person whose final bid forces the other players to back down.
Following the initial deal, players have the option of changing some of their cards. A player with two of a kind and three weak cards may turn in the three bad cards in the hope of receiving another card to add to his pair. A player with two pairs may turn in one card looking for a pair and three of a kind - a full house.
The start of every poker game starts with an initial bet, or ante. Following the initial betting round, players are then faced with a round of betting options. These include:
- Check: If the betting has not begun, the first person to wager can check. This effectively hands the wager decision to the next player in line.
- Bet: Betting begins in earnest with the first bet. This can be of any amount, but most games will have agreed upon a minimum, and sometimes a maximum bet.
- Fold: A player who folds has decided to cut his losses. Rather than staying in with a weak hand, and hoping that everyone else folds, most players with a weak hand will fold or "throw in their cards".
- Call: When a player calls, he must match the current bid made by earlier players.
- Raise: Provided a previous player has set a wager on the current round of betting, a player can raise the stakes. To raise, a player must match the previous bet and then raise the betting to a higher level.
Following the final round of betting, the showdown takes place. At this point, each player shows their hand and the best hand on the table takes the pot.
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