Poker is a card game in which players make bets on the relative strength of their hands. The game has countless variants, but most share certain features. A standard poker hand consists of five cards. The value of a hand is determined in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency; higher hands are more rare, and therefore have greater value. Players may also choose to bluff, in which case they bet that they have a superior hand and hope that other players will call their raise.

Each player begins the game with an ante. After this, the initial dealer shuffles the deck and cuts it. Then, each player is dealt 2 cards face down (hidden from other players). This deal is called the pre-flop betting phase. Afterwards, 3 cards are dealt face up in the center of the table (revealed to all players). These cards are known as the flop. The next betting phase starts with the player to the left of the big blind.

The player to the left of the big blind must place a bet of at least the amount set by the rules of the game in question (usually in chips). After this, other players can raise or fold. The best hand wins the pot. If a player has two identical hands, they tie and split any winnings equally. During the course of a round, several side pots may be created as well. In some variations of the game, players must place a forced bet (called a “blind”) before they are dealt their cards.