Poker is a card game in which players wager chips representing money on the outcome of the hand. It is played in many different ways, and it has become an integral part of American culture. It is considered a game of chance, but it also has elements of skill and psychology.

The game is typically played with a deck of 52 cards. Each player is dealt five cards, and betting takes place in intervals after each deal. The highest hand wins the pot. If no one has a high hand at the end of the final betting round, a showdown occurs, and the cards are revealed.

In most games, a player must ante something (the amount varies by game). Then each player in turn places bets into the pot in front of him. He may call a bet, raise it, or drop (abandon his hand and his share of the pot).

A straight consists of 5 consecutive cards of a single suit that don’t “wrap around” as in Q-K-A-2-3-8, but can include an ace. It is better than a flush, which is any five cards of the same suit. A pair is three cards of the same rank, and a full house is two matching pairs (otherwise it would be just a straight).

By mutual agreement, a special fund called a kitty is created to pay for new decks of cards and refreshments. Any money left in the kitty at the end of the game is distributed evenly among the players who remain in the hand.