Poker is a card game in which players place bets against each other based on the cards they hold. The game can be played in a variety of ways, depending on the rules of the particular variant being played. The rules differ in many ways, including the number of cards dealt, whether they are face up or down, and how betting rounds are structured. The game may also involve bluffing.

Poker was first recorded in 1829 and is one of the oldest card games. Its form as it is played today evolved from the three-card brag game, a popular gentleman’s game during the Revolutionary War. The modern poker game involves five cards per player and betting in several rounds.

A standard poker hand consists of five cards and ranks in inverse order to their probability, with the highest-ranking hand winning. The suits have no ranking, and ties are broken by the higher unmatched cards or secondary pairs (in a full house).

A round of poker begins with each player being dealt two cards face down and continues with a series of betting intervals. During each betting interval the player to the left of the dealer can choose to either bet or check. The first player to check must bet at least the established minimum amount; subsequent players may raise or drop their bets. Unless a player has a superior hand, it is often advantageous to check. In this way, players can avoid being forced to place bets and may play against weaker opponents.