Poker is a card game of skill, chance and strategy. It can be played with any number of players, although it is usually played by two or more people. The goal of the game is to win the pot, which is the sum of all bets made during a deal. The value of a poker hand is determined by its odds (probability), and the higher the hand, the more likely it is to be a winning one.

There are dozens of different variations of the game, but all have certain common features. In most forms, the game starts with each player putting in a bet of chips that his or her opponents must match or raise. After this, the players are dealt cards that they keep hidden from their opponents. There are then several rounds of betting, in which players can choose to check, put in a bet or raise their previous bet.

As the rounds progress, the players with the best hands try to beat their rivals and take over the game. Ties are broken by the next highest card in each hand – for example, high cards such as 2 (the lowest) and A are used to break ties between two hands that have matching pairs. Alternatively, the highest unmatched card in each hand – known as the kicker – determines the winner. This method is used to break ties in full houses, flushes and straights. In addition, the rank of each hand may be changed by a wild card.

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