Poker is a card game played between a number of players. The object is to win the pot, which is the sum of all bets made on a single hand. The game can be played by 2 to 14 players, although most forms of the game have 6 to 8 players. Players place chips or cash into the pot during betting intervals, which are dictated by the rules of the specific poker variant being played.

To begin a hand, one player is designated by the rules of the game as the dealer or button. The dealer shuffles the cards, and then deals them to each player, beginning with the person to his or her left. The cards may be dealt either face up or down, depending on the particular variant of poker being played. The first of a series of betting intervals then begins, and players must place chips (representing money) into the pot equal to or higher than the bet of the player before them.

One of the keys to success in poker is knowing when to fold and when to bet. It is important to be able to read the other players and understand their tells, which are unconscious habits or gestures that reveal information about a player’s hand. A good tell can be as simple as a change in posture or as complex as a facial expression. Also, it is important to know how to bluff in order to force weaker hands out of the pot.