Poker is a card game in which players wager chips against one another, in a common pot. The best hand wins the pot. It can be played with two to 14 players, although it is most often played in a small group of six to eight players. There are many different variants of the game, but they all feature betting rounds and a showdown to determine the winner.

The game begins with forced bets, usually an ante and a blind bet. The dealer then shuffles the cards and cuts them in some fashion. The players then take turns putting bets into the pot by raising their own bet or calling a raise made by other players. The cards are then dealt out to the players, either face-up or face-down, depending on the variant of poker being played.

In most forms of poker, a player’s hand must consist of at least five cards to win the pot. After each betting street (the turn, the river and the showdown) the players reveal their hands. The player with the highest five-card hand wins the pot.

A good poker player must also know how to read other players. This can be done through subtle physical tells such as scratching your nose or playing nervously with your chips, or by studying patterns. For example, if a player is betting all the time then they probably have a strong hand and you should be cautious of calling their bets.