The game of Poker is played between a number of players who place bets into a central pot before dealing cards. Each player in turn may choose to call, raise, or fold his or her hand. The game can be played in a variety of ways, and different rules may apply to particular variants.

Some variants of Poker require all players to make forced bets, known as blind bets, before the cards are dealt. These bets can replace the ante or be in addition to it. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them one at a time, beginning with the player to his or her immediate right. Cards may be dealt face up or down, depending on the variant being played.

In standard poker, a pair of identical cards is the highest ranking hand. If two or more pairs are identical, they tie and any winnings are split evenly. Some Poker games also include wild cards, which alter the ranking of hands.

Some Poker games involve a special fund called the kitty, which is built by “cutting” (taking one low-denomination chip from each pot in which there has been more than one raise). Any chips left in the kitty when the game ends are then divided among the players who remain in the game. Keeping a file of hands you play and watching how experienced players react in certain situations is an excellent way to develop quick instincts in Poker.