Poker is a card game in which players place bets on the outcome of a hand. The player with the highest-ranked hand wins the pot, which is all of the chips placed into it during a single betting interval. A hand may contain any combination of cards, but there are a few types of hands that are commonly used in poker.

The game is often played with a group of people sitting around a table, and the stakes are generally high. Regardless of the stakes, players are expected to follow a set of rules. Although the game is primarily a gamble, it also involves elements of psychology and mathematical calculation. A good poker player can make a profit by making intelligent decisions and bluffing at the right time.

A hand begins with each player placing mandatory bets into the pot before being dealt cards. These are called forced bets and come in the form of antes, blinds or bring-ins. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them to the players one at a time, beginning with the player to their left. Cards are usually dealt face up, but this varies according to the variant of the game being played.

Each player must then act in turn, based on the rules of the particular game being played. Each player must place a bet that is either equal to or higher than the total contribution by the player before him.