Poker is a card game that involves betting between players and requires considerable skill to play well. The object of the game is to win a pot – the aggregate of all bets made during a deal – by forming one of a number of high-ranking poker hands.

There are many variations of the game, but the basic rules are the same in all of them. At the start of each hand, one or more players are required to make forced bets, usually an ante or a blind bet. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals each player two cards, face-down (hidden from other players), which are called that player’s hole or pocket cards. The player to the left of the dealer then begins betting in the first of several rounds.

When the pre-flop betting phase is over, three cards are dealt face up at the center of the table, which are commonly known as the flop. These cards are community cards that can be used by all players to form their poker hands. In most cases, a second round of betting occurs after the flop.

Once the betting has been completed in a round, players may elect to Check (pass on the opportunity to place a bet), Call (match the amount of a previous player’s raise) or Raise (place a higher bet). The final step is to reveal the poker hands and the winner is determined. A player can also choose to fold if they have an inferior poker hand.