Poker is a card game for two or more players. The object of the game is to win a pot (the sum total of all bets made during one deal) by having the highest poker hand or by making a bet that no other player calls. The game can be played with as few as two players, but the ideal number is six or seven. There are a large number of different games and betting strategies, but the basic rules are the same in all variations.

In most forms of the game, players put an initial amount into a pot before any cards are dealt. This is called a forced bet and is usually an ante or blind bet. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them to the players one at a time, beginning with the player to his left. Players may then check, call, or raise.

When a player checks, he passes on his turn to act and forfeits any chance of winning the round. A raise indicates that the player wants to increase the stakes and thereby stay in the round. If a player does not want to increase the stakes, he can fold his hand and withdraw from the game.

During a hand, poker players will often reveal information about their hands by using tells, which are unconscious habits that indicate how strong or weak their hand is. These clues can be as simple as a gesture or as complex as eye contact.