Follow our guide to the "basics of poker"

Poker can be won in two main ways:( We are talking about Live Poker Games - not Online Video Poker

* Reveal the best hand at the conclusion of all the betting rounds (show down) When two or more players are still active when all the betting rounds are done, they turn their hands face up. The player who holds up th highest hand during this show down, wins the pot.

* Fold. If all your opponents 'fold their hands' or simply "fold". To fold means that a player relinquishes his or her claim to the pot by not matching an opponent's bet. In this case, you may have had the best hand or you may have been bluffing, it doesn't matter. When opponents surrender their claim to the pot, it's yours.

Most casino games of poker require an ante or blind bet. If antes are used, each player places a small amount of money into the pot in order to have cards dealt to them. If blind bets are used, one or more players are designated to make a bet or portion of a bet before receiving any cards. This requirement usually rotates around the table so each player pays their fair share.

Each time a round of cards is dealt, players have an opportunity to:

* Bet (be the first person to voluntarily put money or chips into the pot if they think they have a good hand),
* Call (to match, rather than add to, a prior bet),
* Raise (to call and then increase the prior bet)
* Check (to abstain from betting, reserving the right to call or raise if another player bets) * Fold (forfeit interest in the pot by releasing their hand. When a player folds a hand, they are not required to place any more money in the pot.)

If a player bets or raises and no one calls, the pot belongs to that player, the cards are collected and shuffled, that round is over, and the next hand is dealt. If there are two or more players still active at the end of the hand, the best hand wins the pot.

So with each round of play, your bankroll (the amount of money you personally have available to bet with) will increase if you win the pot, or decrease if you didn't win the pot. When everyone decides to stop playing poker (or only one person has any money in their bankroll) the amount in your bankroll is how much money you'll go home with.

While there are different rules for each specific version, poker really is this simple. Yet within its simplicity lies a wonderfully textured game structure that is always fascinating, frequently fun, and played seriously and competitively by a few. But for most people it is a lifelong source of pleasure.