Poker is a card game played by two or more players and involves betting. The object of the game is to win the pot (a sum of all bets placed in a single deal) by having the highest-ranking hand at the end of a betting round. This is possible through a combination of the two personal cards in your own hand and the five community cards on the table.
A high level of skill is needed to play well, which includes understanding game theory and probability, as well as the ability to read opponents. It is also important to have a cool head and be able to avoid letting your emotions get the better of you. This is especially important in bluffing, as it can be very difficult to tell when someone is bluffing.
Each player begins the hand by putting in an amount of money into the pot, known as the ante. Then each player has one or more betting intervals, depending on the particular game. During each betting interval, the player may choose to call a bet made by the player before him or raise his own bet.
A player who calls a bet must place the amount of chips or cash in the pot equal to that of the previous player. If no one else raises, the player has the option to check (stay in the game without placing any additional bets). If all players except one fold on a betting round, the bettor collects the pot, no cards are shown, and the next hand begins.