Poker is a card game in which players place bets based on the strength of their hands. The object of the game is to win the “pot,” which is the sum total of bets made by all players in any one deal. A player may win the pot by having the highest-ranking poker hand or by making a bet that no other player calls. There are many variants of poker, but the rules are generally similar. Players must keep records and pay taxes on their winnings.

While poker involves some element of chance, the majority of the money placed in the pot is placed voluntarily by the players, who act on their knowledge of probability, psychology and game theory. The players may raise or check their bets in any given betting interval, depending on how good the cards they are dealt are.

The game can be played with any number of players, but a perfect number is 6, 7 or 8. The cards are dealt face down and a round of betting occurs every time the dealer turns up a new card. After the final betting interval the players show their cards.

When playing poker, it is important to read your opponents. Look for tells such as shallow breathing, sighing, nostril flaring, eye watering and a twitchy body. A hand that is held tight or folded is often a sign of strength, while a bluffing player will check and raise his bet to induce other players with weak hands to call him.