Poker is a card game in which players wager money, called chips, on the outcome of a hand. The game is governed by a set of rules, and players make decisions based on probability, psychology, and game theory. The goal is to minimize losses with bad hands and maximize winnings with good ones. This skill is what distinguishes poker from other vying games.

In most forms of the game, each player places an initial contribution into a pot, called an ante or blind bet. A dealer shuffles the cards, and each player then takes turns cutting. After the first round of betting, one or more cards are dealt to each player, face down and hidden from the other players (called their hole or pocket). The players then evaluate their hands and compete for the pot by raising their bets.

A poker hand contains five cards. The value of a poker hand is in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency—the more rare the combination, the higher the rank. Players may raise their bets by claiming to have a high-ranking hand even when they do not, a practice known as bluffing.

Players may also increase their bets by saying “raise” to the other players. If a player is raised, he or she must either call the new amount or fold, giving up the right to continue competing for the pot. A player who chooses to fold can never raise again, so he or she must forfeit all chips previously bet.