Poker is a card game in which players try to make the best hand out of a set of cards. The game combines elements of strategy, luck, and skill.

The game is played by a number of players, typically from two to fourteen (although in most forms the ideal number is six, seven, or eight). Each player contributes an ante, which is usually a small amount of money. The ante is used to make a contribution to the pot before each betting round.

When a player is dealt two cards, they can choose to fold, which means to not play this hand; to call, which means to match the previous bet; or to raise, which means to add more money to the pot.

A betting round starts when one player makes a forced bet, called an ante or blind bet; the action proceeds clockwise until all players have either called the last bet, folded, or made a new bet.

Optimal strategy in most forms of poker says that players should “play” all hands greater than Queen, Six and Four and fold all hands worse. This means that a player should not fold unless they have the worst hand, and must always bet at least some of their ante.

To begin a hand, the dealer shuffles and deals cards to each player, beginning with the first player to the left of the button. The button then rotates among the players one spot clockwise after each hand.