Poker exemplifies "all the worst aspects of capitalism that have made our country so great" - Walter Matthau
In all variants of poker, the player's main objective is to acquire the best possible hand of 5 cards and/or to persuade everyone else into folding (surrendering) and therefore winning the pot (all that has been bet, be it money or chips) by default. The possible winning hands are explained in the Hand Values section, but before learning these, a player must first understand the basics.
Poker can be played between two to twelve players, usually seated around a circular or oval table. Each player in the hand must ante (place an agreed bet before anyone sees their cards) to start the pot. A dealer is selected, and this responsability is passed clockwise around the table with each different hand played. The duty of the dealer is not only to supply each player with the correct number of cards, but also to make sure that everyone acts on their turn, and places the correct amount of money in the pot.
Play begins with the person on the dealer's immediate left, and continues around the table, the dealer enjoying the advantage of betting last. The number of betting intervals, between two and five, depends on the variant being played. At the start of a betting round, unless playing blind (only in Texas Hold'em, ie. making a small bet without seeing his cards) the first player has the option to check (to pass the resonsibility of the opening bet to the next player), which passes round until a player decides to open (to start the betting by placing a desired amount of money into the pot).
From then on, players have the option to fold (to muck, or throw away, his hand face down and to play no further part in the hand) to call (to equal the amount bet by placing his money into the pot) or to raise (to increase the bet by atleast double). Play continues around the table until all players still in the hand have placed an equal amount into the pot. (Note: A player who folds, forfeits all he has already bet into the pot)