Poker is a card game that mixes the skills of reading opponents, predicting odds, and making big bluffs. It is played in casinos, clubs, and at home by many people around the world.

The game begins with a dealer dealing cards to the players one at a time. There is usually an initial forced bet, called a blind. Alternatively, the player to the left of the dealer (or the player holding the dealer button) may place a small blind.

After the deal, each player is allowed to make an additional bet or raise by the amount established in the rules. If no other players bet or raise, the first player to make a bet in any betting interval is the winner.

There are three basic ways to win a hand: A high card, a pair of cards, or a straight. A pair of cards is a combination of two matching cards; a straight is a running sequence of cards, regardless of suit.

A hand is determined by comparing the card values with the cards in the other hands in the table. If two hands are identical, they are tied, and the players who have the highest pair split the pot.

The game is usually played with a deck of 52 cards, sometimes with one or two jokers added to the mix. In tournament play, two or more packs of contrasting color cards are used to speed the game up.