Poker is a card game in which players bet money (representing chips) into the pot by raising or folding their hands. It also involves bluffing, in which a player pretends to have the best hand when they actually do not. The best possible hand is a straight flush, which consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit. Ties are broken by the highest unmatched cards or secondary pairs (in a full house). Depending on the rules of the game, one player may be designated as the dealer, in which case he places an initial amount of money into the pot before each betting round. This initial bet is referred to as the ante.
Typically, poker is played by two or more people around a table. An initial deal is made by passing the pack of cards from the left, one card at a time, until a jack appears. This player then becomes the first dealer, and the turn to act is passed clockwise around the table.
There are countless variations of poker. However, the core strategy of the game is essentially the same in all of them: Learn how to read your opponents and make optimal decisions with each hand. Achieving this requires raw technical skill, and the divide between break-even beginner players and big winners is often much smaller than you might think. The key is learning to view the game in a cold, mathematical and logical way, away from its emotional and superstitious roots.