Poker is a card game played between two or more players. The object of the game is to win a pot, which is the sum total of bets placed during a single deal of cards. The pot may be won by forming the highest-ranking poker hand, or by successfully bluffing against other players who hold superior hands.

Poker has many variants, and each one has its own rules. Regardless of the type of poker being played, a good understanding of basic card-hand rankings and a firm grasp of probability will help players improve their odds of winning. In addition, a keen eye for tells (unconscious habits that reveal information about a player’s confidence level or strength of hand) is crucial.

Depending on the game, one or more players are required to place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt. These bets are called antes, blinds or bring-ins.

The dealer shuffles the pack and deals cards in rotation to each player starting with the person to his left. The player receiving the first jack becomes the dealer and has the right to cut the deck. If he declines, the next player has the option to cut. If the deck is cut, replacement cards are drawn from the bottom of the draw stack. Depending on the rules, players may open betting during or after this phase. If no one opens, the player holding the best poker hand takes the pot.