Poker is a card game in which players try to make the best hand out of five cards. The best hand wins the pot, which is the aggregate of all bets made by the players in the hand.

The game begins with one or more players placing an initial amount of money into the pot, called an ante. The ante usually has a small denomination and is paid before the cards are dealt.

A dealer (the person to the left of the big blind) deals the cards in turn. The dealer begins the deal with the player on his left, then moves clockwise around the table.

Each player is given two cards face-down, a hole card, and a pocket card. The pocket card is hidden from other players and serves to strengthen the hand.

After the pre-flop betting phase, 3 cards are dealt face-up in a row, known as the flop, and another round of betting begins. The flop is a community card, which all players can use to build their hands.

The highest possible hand in poker is a royal flush, which contains a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit. This hand can only be beaten by a straight flush, which consists of 5 consecutive cards of the same suit.

Poker is a game of skill, and identifying the patterns in your opponent’s betting and folding habits is critical. It’s also important to remember that the more aggressive your opponents are, the harder it is for you to read them.