Poker is a card game in which players place wagers on the likelihood of winning a hand. It is a game of chance, but it requires considerable skill to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize winnings with good ones. The object of the game is to win the pot, or the aggregate amount of all bets placed during a deal. This is accomplished by raising, calling, or folding. Players may also bluff, betting that they have a strong hand when in reality they do not, and winning if other players decline to call the bet.
Each betting interval (a round) begins with one player putting in chips into the pot. Then each player to his or her left must either “call” the bet, put in the same number of chips as the person before them, or raise it. A player who wants to add more chips to the pot must say “raise,” and those additional chips are placed in front of the dealer.
Then the cards are dealt. If a player has three matching cards of the same rank, such as three queens or two 8s, they have a full house. A flush is five consecutive cards of the same suit, such as Q, 10, 7, 6, and 2 of clubs. A straight is five cards in sequence but not necessarily of the same suit, such as four jacks and a 3. A pair is two cards of the same rank plus another unmatched card.