Poker is a card game in which players wager chips (representing money, for which the game is almost always played) in a communal pot. The game is governed by a set of rules based on probability, psychology, and game theory. Each betting interval (round) begins when a player, designated by the rules of the specific poker variant being played, makes a bet. Other players may choose to call the bet, raise it, or drop out of the round. Each player must place into the pot enough chips to cover all bets made before him or her.
Before a hand is dealt, each player must ante something (amount varies by game; our games typically require a nickel) to get dealt cards. Then, the players bet into a central pot in clockwise order until one player has all the chips or everyone folds.
A hand of poker consists of five cards and can be one of several different combinations. The most common is a pair: two matching cards of the same rank. Other possibilities include three of a kind (three distinct cards of the same rank) and a straight or flush: five consecutive cards of the same suit. The high card breaks ties.
Poker is a fast-paced game and players must be able to make quick decisions. Practice and observation of experienced players can help develop good instincts. However, it is important to remember that every hand is different and there are no universally effective strategies.