Poker is a card game played by two or more players. It is a skillful game that requires knowledge of card rankings and strategy to win. It is often played for money, with the objective of forming the best five-card hand at the end of the betting round. The highest-ranking hand wins the pot, which is the sum of all bets placed by the players in a particular deal.
A poker player must also be able to read opponents. This involves observing their betting patterns and learning what type of players they are. For example, conservative players will usually fold early in a hand, while aggressive players will bet high and can be easily read as bluffs.
The rules of poker vary from one game to another, but most games include a dealer, a deck of cards, and chips. Each player begins the game with an equal number of chips. The white chips are worth the minimum ante or bet, and the blue chips represent different values. Typically, a player must buy in for at least 200 chips.
During the first betting round, known as the preflop, each player receives two private cards that are held in their hand and five community cards that are shared by all players. The player must decide whether to call or raise the bet in order to participate in the next phase of the betting, which is called the flop. Once all players have either matched the size of the biggest raise or folded, the dealer “burns” the top card of the deck and places it face down on the table, out of play.