The Official Poker Handbook

Poker is a card game of skill that requires both knowledge and luck. The best players are able to minimize losses with weak hands while winning the most with strong ones. They also need to maintain a disciplined mindset. To do this, they must commit to playing the right games for their bankroll and not be distracted by other issues. They must also have the courage to make the big call or bluff when it is necessary. It is not uncommon for a professional to be beaten by the element of chance, even when they did everything right, so this kind of mental toughness is vital to long-term success in the game.

In most game settings, a set of chips are used to mark the value of each player’s bet. White chips are the most common, and usually represent one unit of a minimum ante or bet amount. Red chips, or some other dark-colored chip, are often worth five whites. When the players are ready to begin play, each player must “buy in” with a sufficient number of chips. One of the players is designated as the banker, who keeps a stock of all the chips in play and records how many a player has been issued or how much cash he or she paid for them. It is important that all the players are aware of the total amount in play at any time, so no private transactions or exchanges take place. If a player does not have enough chips to bet, he or she must request more from the banker.

The standard 52-card pack is used for poker, with two jokers added to the deck for use in some games. The cards are shuffled before each deal. Most game settings have two dealers. While one dealer deals, the other shuffles and prepares the next pack for dealing. Many games require the dealer to choose which form of poker will be played and designate the ante amount and whether or not the players can raise their bets during the betting intervals.

A good player knows when to make a bluff and when to bet for value. A player must also be aware of his or her opponent’s tendencies and play accordingly. It is a mistake to just call or raise for no reason, and it is important that each player has a clear goal in mind when making any move.

This rulebook was compiled by Robert Ciaffone, known in the poker world as Bob Ciaffone, who is a leading authority on cardroom rules. He has selected which rules to include, and improved the format, organization, and wording of the text. This book is free of charge, and may be copied by anyone for non-profit use, provided that the name “Robert Rules of Poker” be used or credited, and no portion of this work be sold for profit. Copying is also permissible without restriction by any person or business that wishes to use these rules in their establishment.