Poker is a card game in which players place bets and try to make the best hand. It involves bluffing and psychology, as well as skill and mathematics. A good poker player must be able to read situations and opponents, as well as know the odds of making a particular hand in any situation.
Before a hand is dealt, one or more players must make forced bets, usually an ante and a blind bet. The dealer then shuffles the cards, and each player cuts once or twice. Cards may be dealt either face up or down, depending on the variant of poker. After the deal, betting takes place in a series of rounds. At the end of each round, all bets are gathered into the pot.
A poker hand consists of five cards. A pair of aces is the lowest hand. A straight is a string of cards in order (such as 5-4-3-2-1) that are all of the same suit. A flush is a group of cards of the same rank, such as 5-6-7-8-9. The highest possible poker hand is a royal flush, which is an Ace-King-Queen-Jack-Turn-Up.
Players may raise the size of their bets in each betting round. Saying “raise” means to bet more than the previous player’s raise. If you want to remain in the hand, you must say “call” to match the raise. You can also fold, in which case you surrender the hand and give up your rights to any side pots.