If you’ve ever watched a horror movie, you know that the good guys don’t always win. The hero is often outnumbered and running out of options, only to get yanked into the darkness, dragged screaming to the floor, and chomped to death by zombies. Poker is a bit like that, too. Even the good guys can make terrible decisions, and lose big pots. If you’re like them, then you’d better play smart poker.

First, you’ve likely heard the term “ante.” This is a small amount, usually a nickel. Players then place their bets in the center of the table, called the pot. If they have the highest-ranking hand, they win the pot. But how is this betting interval determined? It depends on the game you’re playing, but in general, it’s not difficult to learn the ins and outs of the game.

The most important thing to remember when playing poker is that you should have a deck of cards. A standard deck has 52 cards, and each player has four of each suit. For the most part, poker is played with chips, rather than cash, which makes counting and keeping track of money much easier. You can also make change faster with chips, which is why many players choose to play with chips. Generally, each chip is worth a different dollar amount.

The aim of poker is to build the best hand possible. A high hand is any set of four cards with the same rank. In case of a tie, the higher-ranking four-of-a-kind wins. If two players have four-of-a-kind or better hands, the second pair wins. When a pair is tied, a high card outside the hand breaks the tie. If a player has all five cards of one suit, he or she has a flush. If both players have a straight, the low hand wins.