Poker is a card game of chance, skill and strategy. It is played by two or more players and has become a popular pastime in casinos, private homes and over the Internet. It is considered to be the national card game of the United States and its play and jargon have permeated American culture.

Poker has many variations. Some are simpler than others, but they all involve betting and the accumulation of bets into a “pot.” Typically one player has the privilege or obligation to make the first bet during each round. Then each player in turn must place enough chips (representing money) into the pot to make his bet at least equal to the total contribution of the player before him.

Each hand begins with the dealer shuffles and cuts the cards, then deals each player one card at a time, starting with the player to his left. Bets may be placed after the deal or after each round of cards.

The highest cards win a hand. If more than one hand has the highest cards, the value of the second-highest card breaks the tie. A pair is two distinct cards of the same rank. Three of a kind is 3 matching cards of the same rank. A straight is five consecutive cards of the same suit. A flush is 5 cards of the same suit in a sequence. A high card is any card that does not qualify for a pair, a straight or a flush.