The basics of poker are simple. The object of the game is to win the pot - or the sum of money being wagered throughout the course of a game (minus the 'rake').
Winning is possible in the following ways:
You have the best hand,
You bluff your opponent into thinking that you have the better cards and he folds.
Every poker game starts with some or all players putting a certain amount of money or chips into the pot. This initial obligatory bet, or fee, is called the "Ante" or "Blind" An ante is when every player puts a fixed nominal percentage of the minimum stake into the pot - as is the case in Seven Card Stud.
If a blind is required (like in Texas Hold'em or Omaha), the two players to the left of the dealer (designated by the 'dealer button') will start the pot, clockwise from the dealer, with the first player placing the small blind (half the minimum bet) and the next player placing the big blind (the minimum bet). Rotation assures that every player gets their turn to post blinds.
Now it's time to deal the cards. Once you have paid your blinds, there are no more mandatory wagers to be made and you can then take the various opportunities to decide whether or not you wish to play on or fold. You can bet as much as you are able or allowed to, or you can save your chips and show the other players that you are an experienced player. Only rookies see out every game!
In addition, you have the opportunity to win more money from other players by betting on a good hand. Normally, there are three raises per betting round possible, whereas the raises are bound to a limit. If you are betting and nobody calls, you win without showing your cards. If the bet is called, cards must be shown and the player with the best hand wins. In case the amount in the pot is uneven and the pot is split, the first active player to the left of the dealer button gets the extra chip. In Hi/Lo games, the High always gets this extra chip.
Poker is an easy-to-learn game of friendly competition. Combined with a bit of thought, strategy and basic know-how, it can offer a great deal of fun and enjoyment while at the same time providing you with useful life training.