Poker is a card game played by two or more players and involves betting. The object of the game is to win a pot, which contains all the bets made during a deal. Players contribute chips (representing money) to the pot in increments called betting intervals. A player who makes a bet that exactly matches the contribution of the player before him is said to call, and a player who bets more than the previous player is said to raise.

Developing a solid range of hands is essential for success in poker, and aggressive play with strong hands is key to winning more often than you lose. It’s also important to be able to read your opponents. There are many books dedicated to poker strategy, and many players develop their own strategies through detailed self-examination or by discussing their hands with others for a more objective look at their strengths and weaknesses.

In addition to a good basic strategy, successful poker players must commit to smart game selection and limits. A fun game won’t necessarily be the most profitable, so choosing games that are a good fit for your bankroll and skill level is crucial.

The rules of poker vary slightly from variant to variant, but there are some common elements. Most forms of the game involve six to eight players. The deck is shuffled and the cards dealt in rotation, starting with the person to the left of the dealer. After each deal, there is a round of betting, initiated by the mandatory bets placed into the pot by the two players to his or her immediate left.