Poker is a card game where players compete to make the best hand. It is played with cards and chips, and involves a lot of strategy.

The basic rules of poker are simple but can be complicated depending on the variations of the game. Some variants require the player to place an initial bet, called an ante, before the cards are dealt. This bet can be raised or matched by other players during the betting round.

After the ante is placed, each player is dealt 2 face-down cards and 1 card face up. These cards are called the hole or pocket cards, and they are used to build a 5-card hand.

In the first betting interval, each player must bet at least an established minimum; if he does not meet this requirement, he may check (stay in without making another bet). In later betting intervals, a player who meets the previous bet is said to call; one who exceeds it is said to raise.

Players can also choose to discard their cards and draw replacements. After this, a final round of betting takes place, in which each player shows his or her cards.

The winning hand is the best five-card hand. Typical hands include straights, flushes, and royal flushes. Other types of hands include high cards, low cards, and a wide range of combinations.