Poker is a card game played between two or more players. It has many variants, each with unique rules and etiquette. The game can be played with a standard 52-card deck, or with special cards added for different purposes.

One or more players make forced bets at the beginning of a hand, usually an ante and a blind bet. Cards are then dealt in rounds, with each player betting based on their rank of the hand as compared to other players’. Once the betting round is complete, any remaining bets are gathered into the pot.

The highest hand is a royal flush, consisting of a 10, Jack, Queen, and King of the same suit in a single sequence. The next highest is a straight flush, which contains 5 consecutive cards of the same suit (not necessarily all clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades). A full house is three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank. A pair is two unmatched cards of the same rank.

It’s important for writers of poker to understand the game and its many variations, including how they differ from each other and how different players think and act during a hand. This includes being able to spot tells, unconscious habits a player exhibits that reveal information about his or her hand. This can include eye contact, facial expressions, body language, or gestures. Those who write about poker must also keep up to date on the latest developments in the game and its various competitions, such as tournaments.