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Poker is a type of card game in which players bet on the value of the card combination ("hand") in their possession, by placing a bet into a central pot. The winner is the one who holds the hand with the highest value according to an established hand rankings hierarchy, or otherwise the player who remains in the hand after all others have folded (the player who makes an un-called bet), and wins this pot.

In a casino, a house dealer handles the cards for each hand, but the button (typically a white plastic disk) is rotated clockwise among the players to indicate a nominal dealer to determine the order of betting.

One or more players are usually required to make forced bets, usually either an ante or a blind bet (sometimes both). The dealer shuffles the cards, the player one chair to his right cuts, and the dealer deals the appropriate number of cards to the players one at a time. Cards may be dealt either face-up or face-down, depending on the variant of poker being played. After the initial deal, the first of what may be several betting rounds begins. Between rounds, the players' hands develop in some way, often by being dealt additional cards or replacing cards previously dealt. At the end of each round, all bets are gathered into the central pot.

At any time during a betting round, if one player bets and no opponents choose to "call" (match) the bet and instead "fold", the hand ends immediately, the bettor is awarded the pot, no cards are required to be shown, and the next hand begins. This is what makes bluffing possible. Bluffing is a primary feature of poker, one that distinguishes it from other vying games and from other games that make use of poker hand rankings.

At the end of the last betting round, if more than one player remains, there is a showdown, in which the players reveal their previously hidden cards and evaluate their hands. The player with the best hand according to the poker variant being played wins the pot. A poker hand consists of five cards, but in some variants a player has more than five to choose from.

Straight flush

A straight flush is a poker hand which contains five cards in sequence, all of the same suit, such as Q  J 10 9 8 all in diamonds. Two such hands are compared by their highest card; since suits have no relative value, two otherwise identical straight flushes tie (so 10 9 8 7 6 of diamonds ties with 10 9 8 7 6 of spades). Aces can play low in straights and straight flushes: 5 4 3 2 A is a 5-high straight flush, also known as a "steel wheel". An ace-high straight flush such as A K Q J 10 is known as a royal flush, and is the highest ranking standard poker hand.

Four of a kind

Four of a kind, also known as quads, is a poker hand such as 9 9 9 9 J, which contains four cards of one rank, and an unmatched card of another rank. It ranks above a full house and below a straight flush. Higher ranking quads defeat lower ranking ones. In community-card games (such as Texas Hold 'em) or games with wildcards it is possible for two or more players to obtain the same quad; in this instance, the unmatched card acts as a kicker, so 7 7 7 7 J defeats 7 7 7 7 10.

Full house

A full house, also known as a full boat, is a hand such as 3 3 3 6 6, which contains three matching cards of one rank, and two matching cards of another rank. It ranks below a four of a kind and above a flush. Between two full houses, the one with the higher ranking set of three wins, so 7 7 7 4 4 defeats 6 6 6 A A. If two hands have the same set of three (possible in wild card and community card games), the hand with the higher pair wins, so 5 5 5 Q Q defeats 5 5 5 J J. Full houses are described as "Three full of Pair" or occasionally "Three over Pair"; Q Q Q 9 9 could be described as "Queens over nines", "Queens full of nines", or simply "Queens full". However, "Queens over nines" is more commonly used to describe the hand containing two pairs, one pair of queens and one pair of nines, as in Q Q 9 9 J.

Flush

A flush is a poker hand such as Q 10 7 6 4 all in clubs, which contains five cards of the same suit, not in rank sequence. It ranks above a straight and below a full house. Two flushes are compared as if they were high card hands; the highest ranking card of each is compared to determine the winner. If both hands have the same highest card, then the second-highest ranking card is compared, and so on until a difference is found. If the two flushes contain the same five ranks of cards, they are tied – suits are not used to differentiate them. Flushes are described by their highest card, as in "queen-high flush" to describe Q 9 7 4 3 all in heart. If the rank of the second card is important, it can also be included: K 10 5 3 2 all in diamonds is a "king-ten-high flush" or just a "king-ten flush", while K Q 9 5 4 all in spades is a "king-queen-high flush".

Straight

A straight is a poker hand such as Q J 10 9 8, which contains five cards of sequential rank but in more than one suit. It ranks above three of a kind and below a flush. Two straights are ranked by comparing the highest card of each. Two straights with the same high card are of equal value, suits are not used to separate them. Straights are described by their highest card, as in "ten-high straight" or "straight to the ten" for 10 9 8 7 6.

A hand such as A K Q J 10 is an ace-high straight, and ranks above a king-high straight such as K Q J 10 9. The ace may also be played as a low card in a five-high straight such as 5 4 3 2 A, which is colloquially known as a wheel. The ace may not "wrap around", or play both high and low: 3 2 A K Q is not a straight, but just ace-high no pair.

Three of a kind

Three of a kind, also called trips, set or a prile (the latter from its use in three card poker), is a poker hand such as 2 2 2 K 6, which contains three cards of the same rank, plus two unmatched cards. It ranks above two pair and below a straight. In Texas hold 'em and other flop games, a "set" refers specifically to a three of a kind composed of a pocket pair and one card of matching rank on the board (as opposed to two matching cards on the board and a third in the player's hand). Higher-valued three of a kind defeat lower-valued three of a kind, so Q Q Q 7 4 defeats J J J A K. If two hands contain threes of a kind of the same value, possible in games with wild cards or community cards, the kickers are compared to break the tie, so 4 4 4 8 6 defeats 4 4 4 6 5.

Two pair

A poker hand such as J J 4 4 9, which contains two cards of the same rank, plus two cards of another rank (that match each other but not the first pair), plus one unmatched card, is called two pair. It ranks above one pair and below three of a kind. To rank two hands both containing two pair, the higher ranking pair of each is first compared, and the higher pair wins (so 10 10 8 8 4 defeats 8 8 4 4 10). If both hands have the same "top pair", then the second pair of each is compared, such that 10 10 8 8 4 defeats 10 10 4 4 8). Finally, if both hands have the same two pairs, the kicker determines the winner: 10 10 8 8 4 loses to 10 10 8 8 A. Two pair are described by the higher pair first, followed by the lower pair if necessary; K K 9 9 5 could be described as "Kings over nines", "Kings and nines" or simply "Kings up" if the nines are not important.

One pair

One pair is a poker hand such as 4 4 K 10 5, which contains two cards of the same rank, plus three other unmatched cards. It ranks above any high card hand, but below all other poker hands. Higher ranking pairs defeat lower ranking pairs; if two hands have the same pair, the non-paired cards (the kickers) are compared in descending order to determine the winner.

High card

A high-card or no-pair hand is a poker hand such as K J 8 7 3, in which no two cards have the same rank, the five cards are not in sequence, and the five cards are not all the same suit. It is also referred to as "no pair", as well as "nothing", "garbage," and various other derogatory terms. High card ranks below all other poker hands; two such hands are ranked by comparing the highest ranking card. If those are equal, then the next highest ranking card from each hand is compared, and so on until a difference is found. High card hands are described by the one or two highest cards in the hand, such as "king high", "ace-queen high", or by as many cards as are necessary to break a tie.