Poker is a card game in which players wager chips in order to win the pot. The cards are dealt in a clockwise fashion around the table and each player has the option to call or raise the current bet. The game has hundreds of variations, but most share some core features. The underlying skill of poker is to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize winnings with strong ones. This is achieved through a combination of probability, psychology and game theory.

A poker hand consists of five cards. The value of a hand is determined by its relative odds (probability). A higher-ranking hand beats a lower one, and two identical hands tie and divide any winnings equally.

Each player must place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt. This is called the ante. In some games, the dealer may shuffle the cards before each betting interval. The players then place their chips in the pot according to the rules of that particular game.

Players may also use their chips to bluff, which is a strategy in which they bet that they have a superior hand while actually having a worse one. The opponent must then either call the bet or fold.

While some bluffing strategies may be legal, others are not. Examples of bad poker etiquette include talking while you’re not in the hand, hiding your chip pile to make it difficult for opponents to count your stack and giving away information to other players through verbal or nonverbal actions.