Poker is a card game that can be played by two or more players. There are many different forms of the game, but all share some essential principles. The object of the game is to form a high-ranking hand in order to win the “pot,” which is the sum of all bets placed during a single deal. A player may win the pot by having the highest-ranking hand at the end of a betting round or by making a bet that no other players call.

A poker hand consists of five cards. The value of a hand is in direct proportion to its mathematical frequency, and the higher the hand, the more valuable. A pair consists of two matching cards of the same rank. A straight consists of 5 consecutive cards of the same suit, and a flush consists of 5 matching cards of any rank. A high card breaks ties in the case of identical pairs and straights.

The decision to bet, call, or fold should be made only after the flop is revealed and you have a good idea of your opponents’ hand strength. You should also be aware of your opponents’ tendencies and reading them is key to winning. Aggressive players are risk-takers that often bet high early in a hand, and conservative players typically avoid high betting.

Each player acts in turn, putting chips into the pot equal to the amount bet by the previous player. If a player has insufficient chips to call, they may “drop” their hand and forfeit their rights to the pot.