Poker is a card game in which players bet chips on the relative strength of their hands. The player who bets the most wins the hand, unless another player raises. The most common poker hands include pairs, three of a kind, four of a kind, straights and flushes.

Poker requires a combination of skill, psychology and game theory to succeed. The game is often compared to life, as it involves assessing risks versus rewards and making financial decisions under pressure. The game also teaches players to distribute money efficiently, and weigh risks versus potential returns on investments.

While some believe that poker has a large element of luck, most professional players understand that the long term results are based on skill. Having the best cards doesn’t always win, however; sometimes a player’s tenacity and courage triumph over those with the best hands.

The game begins with a dealer dealing five cards to each player face down. Once all the players have their cards, they decide whether to call (match) the highest previous bet or fold. When they call, the cards are discarded and replaced with new ones from the deck. Then, the betting continues in clockwise order.

During the betting process, it’s important to observe how other players behave and to try to determine their betting habits. For example, conservative players tend to fold early in the hand and can be easily bluffed. Aggressive players, on the other hand, are likely to bet high early in a hand before they see how other players react to their own cards.