Poker is an international game of chance, played with poker chips (usually red, white, black, or blue). Players compete against each other to win a “pot” – an aggregate of all the bets made in a specific deal. The winner of the pot is the player with the best poker hand, or one who makes a bet that no other player calls.

Poker rules vary considerably among the many variants, but the main principles are similar. The game begins with a single initial deal, where each player receives a complete set of cards. Then, a betting interval begins in which the players may bet on their hands.

The first bet is called an “ante.” Depending on the rules of the particular variant, one or more players may be required to place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt. These forced bets are often called antes or blinds, but they can also be bring-ins.

During a betting interval, a player can “check” if they do not wish to make another bet. If a player raises, however, all other players must call the new raise or fold.

Poker is a game of luck, but it requires great skill as well. The most important skill is to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize winnings with good hands. This is done by studying the hands of the other players and making comparisons.