Poker is a card game that has both a significant element of chance and requires skill in order to be successful, whether played as cash or tournament play. The game is played with chips (representing money) and involves betting amongst players on the outcome of a hand based on the rankings of different hands. The player with the highest-ranked hand at the end of a series of betting rounds wins the pot, or the sum of all bets placed during that round. Players can also place bets without holding a hand, called bluffing, in the hope that other players will call them, allowing them to win the pot even when they do not have a high-ranked hand.

Before the cards are dealt, one or more players may be required to place an initial amount of money into the pot, which is known as a forced bet (these are commonly called antes or blinds). The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them to the players one at a time, starting with the player to his left. Once each player has two hole cards, a round of betting begins. A third card is then dealt (“the flop”) and another round of betting continues.

A good poker writer should be able to write about the game in an engaging and informative way, offering useful details on the strategies used in the game while still entertaining the reader through personal anecdotes or techniques like discussing tells (unconscious habits displayed by a player during gameplay that reveal information about their cards). Likewise, a good poker story should be able to engage readers by providing a sense of drama through the tension created between the characters involved in the scene through the by-play, such as who flinches and who smiles.