Poker is a card game of skill in which players place chips (representing money) into the pot to compete for a winning hand. The rules vary widely, but the basic principles are the same: minimizing losses with poor hands and maximizing wins with good ones.
In most cases, a player is required to make an initial contribution to the pot, called an ante. Each subsequent player may then choose whether to call, raise or fold his or her hand. Depending on the specific variant of the game, there may be one or more betting intervals during which players have an opportunity to place bets on their hand.
After the antes are placed, each player receives two hole cards and a round of betting begins. The player to the left of the dealer initiates the first bet. After the first round of betting, a third card is dealt. A second round of betting then takes place.
The object is to make the best five-card poker hand. High hands include four of a kind, straight, flush and full house. In most games, a pair is made by matching 2 cards of the same rank and two unmatched cards of different ranks. A flush is 5 cards of consecutive rank in more than one suit. A full house is 3 of a kind and 2 pairs. A straight is 5 cards in a row of increasing rank, with no wild cards. A raise is a bet higher than the previous bet.