Poker is a game of cards in which players place wagers (often equal to the amount they put into the pot) and then compare hands in a showdown. A high hand wins the pot and a low one loses it. Different games may vary in deck configuration, number of cards dealt face up or face down, and betting rules. However, all poker games feature an ante or pair plus bet and at least one round of betting.

Before a hand begins, players must place a forced bet—typically an ante or a blind bet—and the dealer shuffles the cards and deals each player a hand of five cards. A single betting interval follows the deal, with raising and re-raising allowed. As the betting ends, players discard some of their original cards and receive replacements from an undealt portion of the deck. This process is known as draw poker.

After the first round of betting is over, the dealer deals a third card to the table—a community card that anyone can use—known as the flop. Brad keeps his two kings and folds; Dennis kept his three spades and raises; Charley kept her four of hearts and calls.

The second round of betting begins, and your opponent has a pair of aces. You have a high card, so you can bet, but you’re worried that your opponent has a better pair and will fold on the river. To play correctly, you must learn to read the board and understand what types of hands your opponents have. You also need to understand how to defend your position and how stack size should influence your decisions in a tournament.