Poker is a card game with a very long history. It is widely regarded as the world’s most popular gambling game and is played both online and offline. It is one of the few games where there is a substantial amount of skill involved in betting other players into folding their hands.

In most variants, before the cards are dealt each player must make a forced contribution to the pot, called an ante. Then, the dealer shuffles and deals the cards to the players, starting with the player on his left. Cards may be dealt either face-up or face-down, depending on the variant. During each of the following betting rounds, players may bet by placing chips (representing money) into the center “pot” in order to continue raising the stakes. They can also check, in which case they stay in the hand without raising.

A player who raises a bet must beat the previous player’s bet to win the pot. If he does not, he forfeits the hand. In addition to making a bet, a player can bluff by pretending to have a better hand than he actually has for strategic reasons.

When a hand reaches showdown, the players reveal their cards. The player with the best five-card hand wins the pot. If no player has a superior hand at this point, the pot is split into side pots for any bets made after the last round of betting. These side pots can grow to large amounts of money.

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