Poker is a card game where players try to make the best hand possible. It can be played with any number of players from two to 14, but is usually played with a minimum of six or seven. It is a highly competitive game and requires skill and strategy to win.

The rules of poker are based on a set of principles that apply to nearly all variations of the game. The first principle is betting.

During each betting round, one player makes a bet and every player to the left of that player must either call (match) the bet or raise it. When a player calls, they put the same amount of chips into the pot that was called by the player to their left; when they raise, they add more chips to the pot than the player to their left did.

In some versions of the game, a player can “check” (dismiss) the bet if they do not wish to call it. However, if a player does check, they must still call if another player raises the bet.

Betting rounds may last for several intervals before the hands of all active players are turned face-up. If all active players have called an equal amount, the round ends and the pot is won.

Most games allow making change out of the pot, but a player should announce their intentions before they handle chips to avoid confusion or misunderstanding. In addition, in public cardrooms a player can place a single chip in the pot that is of sufficient value to call an outstanding bet or raise without voicing any intention; this automatically constitutes a call. Any change from this chip will be returned to the player at the end of the round.