Poker is a card game played by 2 or more players. Each player is dealt two cards and the aim is to make a five card hand using their own two cards and the 5 community cards. There is a round of betting when all players have their cards, which starts with 2 mandatory bets called blinds that are put into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. A player may choose to call, raise or fold.

Poker owes its genesis to a number of earlier vying games, including Belle, Flux and Trente-un (17th – 18th centuries), Post & Pair (18th – 19th century) and Brag (19th century to present). The latter introduced the draw element, which allowed poker-players to improve their hands and increase the range of possible combinations.

The earliest known written rules of poker date from 1837, attributed by Blackridge to General Schenck, who was reportedly prevailed upon by the guests at a weekend retreat at his Somerset country home to teach them this peculiarly American game.

It is important to know the strength of other players’ hands to make good decisions. This can be done by observing the way they play their cards and their body language, as well as by learning to read tells. A strong poker player is also aware of the odds of winning a particular hand and will use this knowledge to inform their decisions. The more you play and watch, the faster and better your instincts will become.