Poker is a card game that involves betting. The players place forced bets (the ante or blind bet) before the hand is dealt. The dealer then shuffles and cuts the cards, and deals them to the players one at a time. The cards may be dealt face up or face down, depending on the variant of the game. The hand develops between betting rounds, and the best hand is declared the winner.

Poker can be played with any number of players, although six to eight players are the optimal number. The total bets made by all players in a single deal is called the pot. The highest poker hand wins the pot, and the player who made the first bet is considered an active player. To win a poker game, a player must have the highest poker hand, or make the highest bet that no other player calls.

In many poker games, the betting structure begins with a small bet. The maximum bet rises to a large amount in later rounds. After three raises, the betting amount is “capped” and subsequent players may only call or match the bets. If the player calls, he forfeits his chance to win the hand.

When a player is first to act, he or she sits to the left of the big blind and the button. This is considered the best hand at the moment. This player is known as the “nuts” and can obtain a trip flush or a straight flush by hitting all of the cards on the turn and river.