Poker is a card game played with a small group of players. There are several different forms of the game, but they all share some basic rules. The object of the game is to win the “pot,” which is the total amount of all bets placed during a single deal. The pot can be won by having the highest-ranking poker hand or by making a bet that no other player calls.

The game begins with one or more forced bets, usually called blind bets and/or antes. The cards are then shuffled and cut by the player to the right of the dealer. The players then receive their cards, which they keep hidden from other players. Depending on the particular poker variant, there may be one or more betting intervals before a showdown.

A poker hand must have five cards to be considered a winner. The highest-ranking hand is a royal flush, which consists of the 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit. Other high hands include three of a kind (3 cards of the same rank) and two pairs (two cards of the same rank plus two unmatched cards). Ties are broken by the highest card.

While luck is certainly involved in poker, the long-run expectations of players are determined by their actions chosen on the basis of probability, psychology and game theory. By using bankroll management and playing against players they have a skill edge over, players can minimize the impact of variance.