Poker is a card game where players compete to form the highest-ranking hand of five cards. The player with the best hand wins the pot, which is the sum of all bets placed during a betting interval. The game is often played with rules that determine how the money is shared between the winners and losers at the end of the round.

To play poker, you must learn how to read your opponents and understand their betting patterns. This is an important skill, and one that can be learned from playing the game and watching experienced players. It is possible to identify conservative players by their tendency to fold early in a hand, and aggressive players by their tendency to raise the amount of money they bet on a hand.

Before the cards are dealt, players may be required to make forced bets, called antes or blind bets. Once the bets are placed, the dealer shuffles the cards and deals them to each player in rotation, starting with the player on their left. Depending on the variant of poker being played, the cards can be dealt face up or down.

When it is a player’s turn to bet, they can say “call” to match the last player’s bet or raise the amount of their bet. They can also refuse to bet, which is called folding. When a player folds, they give up all of their cards and their chance to win the pot.