Poker is a card game in which players place chips (representing money) into the pot, or pool of betting, when it’s their turn to act. The object of the game is to execute the best possible actions, based on the information you have, with the aim of maximising your long-term expectation.

Each player is dealt five cards and the highest hand wins. Unless there are wild cards, standard poker hands rank in order of their odds: ace, queen, king, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4. If two or more hands have the same rank and suit, they tie. If one or more of the players has a pair of cards, it is considered a “pair”; if the pairs are equal in ranking, it is a “full house”; otherwise it’s a “flush”.

The most important thing to understand about poker is that the divide between break-even beginner players and big-time winners is not nearly as large as many people believe. It’s often just a few small adjustments that enable a player to start winning at a higher clip.

A good poker story will involve the reader in the action and excitement of the game by making the players and their reactions to events as realistic as possible. A great way to do this is by describing tells: unconscious habits that reveal information about a player’s hand. They can be as simple as a shift in posture, or more complex such as facial expressions and gestures.