Poker is a card game played by two or more players. It is a gambling game and as such requires skill, luck, and strong emotional control. The object of the game is to win a pot, or the sum of all bets placed during one deal.

Each player begins the hand by posting a forced bet, called an ante or blind bet (the amount varies according to the game). The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them one at a time to the players, starting with the player to his right. The players then place their bets into the pot in the center of the table.

A hand consists of five cards. The highest hand wins the pot. A straight is 5 consecutive cards of the same rank. Three of a kind is 3 matching cards of the same rank. A flush is 5 cards of the same suit, with either consecutive or non-consecutive ranks. A pair is 2 matching cards of the same rank.

Reading your opponents is an important part of being a good poker player. You can use subtle physical tells like eye contact, a smile, and playing with your chips to determine their emotions. If a player is scratching their nose, flaring their nostrils, or playing nervously with their chips they are likely holding a weak hand and may be bluffing. Some classic tells include shallow breathing, sighing, and an increasing pulse seen in the neck or temple.