Poker is a card game played by two or more players. There are many variants of the game, but they all have certain features in common. The object of the game is to win the pot, which consists of the sum of bets made during any one deal. The pot may be won by a player with the highest-ranking hand or by making a bet that no other player calls.
Before dealing cards, each player must place an ante into the pot. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them to the players, one at a time, beginning with the player on the chair to his right. The cards are dealt either face-up or face-down, depending on the specific poker variant being played. During each betting interval (which may consist of several rounds), the player who is in turn to bet places chips into the pot equal to or more than the total contribution of the players before him.
When a player checks, he passes the opportunity to bet and remains in the hand only if his opponent does not raise his own bet. A player who checks and does not call a later bet is said to “drop” his hand, forfeiting his rights in the original pot. He may, however, compete for side pots won by players who called his bet.
A successful poker player must be able to maintain his or her “poker face” and hide tells, unconscious physical signs of the value of the cards in one’s hand. These tells may include facial or body tics, staring too long at a card, biting finger nails, and nervous habits such as rubbing the eyes.