Poker is a card game in which players bet money into a central pot, which they hope to win by having the best hand. Several variants of poker are played, with different rules for determining the winner.

The game begins with a dealer who shuffles the cards, cuts, and deals the appropriate number of cards to each player in turn, beginning with the player on the left. Depending on the variant, this may be done face-up or face-down.

Each player is dealt one card face down, called a hole card. In some games, a player may also draw additional cards from the deck before or after betting.

Next, each player must place an ante in the pot before seeing their cards. This is usually a small amount of money. In some variants, the ante may be replaced by a blind bet (sometimes called a bring-in).

A player who meets his previous bet is called a caller; a player who exceeds his previous bet is a raiser; and a player who doesn’t meet his previous bet is a fold.

During the course of the game, the players’ hands are developed by a series of betting rounds. If the players remain in contention after the last round, a showdown takes place.

Despite its popularity, poker is a game that can be difficult to master. If you’re new to poker, it’s a good idea to start playing on a single table at first and work your way up to multiple tables as you become more confident with the game.