Poker is a card game in which players bet chips (representing money) against each other and place them in the pot. The object of the game is to execute the most profitable actions (bet, raise or fold) based on the information at hand. In the long run, luck plays only a small part in determining the outcome of the typical poker hand.

The game begins with one or more forced bets, called the ante and blind, placed by the players in turn around the table. The dealer shuffles and then deals cards to each player, starting with the person to his left. Cards may be dealt either face up or down, depending on the variant of poker being played. Each player then places his bet into the pot in turn.

A player with a good hand in poker can increase its strength by hitting additional cards on the flop, turn or river. This is also known as making a made hand. The other way to strengthen a hand is to deceive your opponents by betting strongly on a weak hand in order to induce them to fold their superior hands. This is known as bluffing in poker.

A successful poker player must be able to read his opponents. This requires a thorough understanding of basic probability and game theory. It is also important to have a strong emotional control. This is particularly essential in high-stakes games where players are often very frustrated when they lose.