Poker is a card game that involves risk and reward, as well as skill, psychology, and strategy. The game is played worldwide in private homes, clubs, and casinos. It has become a national pastime and has earned the nickname “the national card game.” There are many variations of Poker, but all involve betting between players and the sharing of cards.

At the start of a game, players usually buy in for a fixed number of chips. A white chip, or one of the lightest-colored chips, is worth a single unit or “spot.” Red and blue chips are of higher denominations, each representing 10, 20, or 25 spots. The higher the value of a chip, the more likely it is to be raised in a given betting interval.

During the course of play, a pot is built up by the players who raise each other’s bets. This is called the “kitty.” Upon the completion of a game, any chips in the kitty are shared equally among those players who remain in the game. In some games, a small percentage of the kitty may also be used to pay for new decks of cards or food and drinks.

After the kitty is established, the dealer (or the player on the button) shuffles and cuts the deck, then deals cards to the players, one at a time, beginning with the person on his or her left. There are generally several betting intervals during each deal, and after the final interval, a showdown occurs in which the hands of the players who remain are revealed. The best hand wins the pot.