Poker is a card game in which players place bets (the amount varies by game) into a central pot. The player with the highest ranking hand at the end of each betting round wins the pot. While chance plays a large role in the outcome of each individual hand, skilled players can make bets that maximize their expected winnings based on probability and psychology.

The game is typically played with two to six players. Each player must ante some amount to participate in the hand, either the minimum ante or the blind bet. The dealer then shuffles the cards, cuts them, and deals each player a number of cards face up or down, depending on the variant being played. Each player may then choose to fold, call, or raise a bet. When raising a bet, players must make a higher bet than the previous player in clockwise order.

Once the cards are dealt, the first of several betting rounds begins. Players can then discard and draw additional cards to improve their hands or keep the same cards for future betting rounds.

To win the pot, a player must have the best five-card poker hand. This can consist of one pair, two distinct pairs, three of a kind, four of a kind, a straight, or a flush. The highest card breaks ties. Players can also use bluffing to try and get other players to fold by making bets that are larger than their actual strength of hand.