Poker is a card game in which players bet on their hands. The object of the game is to have the best hand and win the pot. The game can be played with two to seven players, although the best games are usually played with five or six.

Before the cards are dealt, each player must contribute a small amount of money to the pot, called an ante. The ante gives the pot a value immediately and helps determine how much each player may bet on a hand.

After the ante has been put in, the dealer shuffles and deals the appropriate number of cards to the players one at a time. Cards are dealt face up or face down, depending on the variant of the game being played.

Each player then takes a look at their cards and decides whether to bet or fold. The bettor can “fold,” which means that the player will not play this round of the game, or “check” or “raise,” which means that the bettor matches the bet of another player.

When all players have folded, the hand ends and the pot is awarded to the player with the highest-ranking poker hand. The bettor can then show his cards to the other players, starting with the player who first placed his bet.

The bettor can also choose to bluff his opponent, which is an important skill in the game. Bluffing is a strategy used to hide the cards that a bettor holds in order to trick other players into believing that he has a better hand than he actually does.