Poker is a card game played with a standard deck of 52 cards (some games use more than one deck or even include a few jokers) that are ranked from high to low. The five-card hand with the highest rank wins.

The highest natural hand is a Royal Flush, which consists of five cards in sequence, not necessarily all of the same suit: A-K-Q-J-T. The lowest is a straight, which is five cards in order: 5-6-7-8-9.

Players compete for a “pot” that is the aggregate of all bets made during any deal. The pot is won by having the highest-ranking poker hand, by making a bet that no other player calls, or by making a bet that exceeds the minimum bet established by the dealer.

In most games, the dealer shuffles the cards and deals them to each player in turn, beginning with the player on the left. Each of the players must then place a forced bet called an ante or blind bet, and the betting rounds begin.

After the initial round of betting, a player can “check,” which means they do not wish to make any further bets; or “raise,” which means they want to make a bigger bet. If a player raises, all other players have to call or fold.

There are many different variations of the game, but most follow the basic rules described below. The most common are Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha Hold ‘Em, and Seven-Card Stud.