Poker is a card game played between a group of players. The object of the game is to win the pot, which is the sum of all the bets made by the players in a single betting interval. A player may win the pot by having the best poker hand, or by bluffing. The game of poker has a long history and many variations.

In a typical poker game, each player is required to place an initial amount into the pot before the cards are dealt. This is known as the forced bet and it takes one of three forms: an ante, a blind bet, or a bring-in. Players are also free to raise and re-raise their bets in each betting round.

The cards are dealt from a standard 52-card pack, although some games add extra cards called jokers. The suits are spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs; the Ace is high. Each player is dealt five cards. A poker player’s best hand is a combination of the highest ranking cards.

A good poker player needs to be quick on his or her feet and has to have the ability to read the other players’ expressions. To build these instincts, a player should play the game often and watch experienced players to see how they react in different situations.

The game of poker was a catalyst for the development of game theory, which can be used to analyze all sorts of competitive interactions—from auctions and submarine warfare to the competition among species to pass on their genes. John von Neumann’s proof in his “Theory of Games” pointed the way for a future in which all types of competitive games could be analyzed mathematically. The University of Alberta’s Department of Computer Science has contributed much to this field through the work of its faculty and students.