Poker is a card game that may be played with two or more players. Its rules and strategy vary widely according to the game’s variant. Almost all forms of poker involve betting and the object is to have a high-ranking hand or to force other players into a bad position by bluffing. Players may be required to contribute an initial amount of money to the pot before each deal, called antes or blinds. These bets make the game accessible to people who otherwise would not play, since they create an incentive to win the pot.

Each player is dealt five cards, face down. A round of betting then takes place, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Each player must then either call the bet or fold his hand. Once all players have called the bet, another card is revealed and a new betting interval begins.

The best hand wins the pot, or the aggregate bets placed by all players. There are several ways to improve a poor hand, such as by making a pair or four of a kind. In addition, bluffing can be effective against aggressive players who often raise their bets in the early stages of a hand.

Some players prefer to play conservatively, folding their cards early and only staying in a hand when they have strong cards. This playing style can be spotted by other players and exploited; the opponents will often bluff more against such players.

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