Poker is a game of cards and chips that can be played in cash or tournament games. It requires skill to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize winnings with good ones. It’s a great way to practice risk management and gain a new perspective on uncertainty and decision-making, says Maria Konnikova, a writer and former academic psychologist who developed a mathematical model for human decision-making using poker.

Before the cards are dealt, players must place an initial contribution, called the ante, into the pot to start betting. Then, each player may have the opportunity to raise his or her bets. When a player raises his or her bet, the other players must either call it or forfeit their hand.

After all the players have two cards, another round of betting is held. It starts with the player to the left of the dealer, who must place a small increment of chips into the pot that is at least equal to the amount raised by the player before him. This is a mandatory bet known as a blind, and it’s the first step in competing for the pot.

Once all the players have placed their chips, a third card is then dealt face up. This is known as the flop, and there’s another round of betting. If a player has a strong hand, he or she can increase the bets to make it harder for the other players to call them down.