Poker is a card game in which players wager chips (representing money) in a common pot according to the rules of the variant being played. The game can involve betting intervals of one or more hands, and the winner of each pot is determined by a player’s best five-card hand, as judged by standard ranking rules. In addition to the forced bets, some players place additional chips into the pot voluntarily for strategic reasons.
There are many different forms of poker, suitable for games with 2 to 14 players. Most involve more than five cards, but there are also a few games in which fewer than five are dealt. In some cases, the game is played for a single round or for an unlimited number of rounds with a set limit on how many chips each player can bet.
In most cases, the player to the left of each chair makes a bet (or “calls”) before the dealer shuffles and deals cards, and then each player places their bet into the common pot. A player who bets exactly as many chips as the previous bettor is said to call, and a player who bets more than the previous bettor is said to raise. A player may also choose to check, or stay out of the betting, without placing any chips into the pot.
After each betting interval, the players’ remaining cards are revealed and a showdown takes place. The player with the best Poker hand wins the pot, consisting of all bets made during that betting interval. A poker hand can be composed of any combination of cards: the highest ranking is a Royal Flush (A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit); followed by Straight (five consecutive cards of the same suit); Four of a Kind (four of the same number/picture card); Full House (three of a kind and a pair); and Two Pair (two matching pairs of cards).
In addition to winning the main pot, a player can win side pots in the event of a high-ranked but low-value Poker hand or by bluffing in a pot with an inferior hand. There are several methods of bluffing, but the most common are pretending to have a high-scoring hand when you don’t, or pretending to have a lower-scoring hand when you do.
In some poker variants, the players will establish a fund at the beginning of the game to pay for new decks of cards, food, drinks, and so on. This is known as the kitty, and any chips in the kitty at the end of the game are divided evenly amongst the players. In other poker variants, the kitty is simply a pool of chips that each player contributes to before each betting interval. The amount of the kitty is usually decided by consensus or by a majority vote.