Poker is a card game in which players wager money by placing chips (representing money) into a central pot. The object of the game is to win the pot by having the highest-ranking hand at the end of one or more betting rounds. Players may also win by bluffing. Poker can be played with any number of players, but the ideal number is seven or more.

The game is played with a standard pack of 52 cards; some variant games use more than one pack or add wild cards (jokers) to the mix. There are four suits — spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs — but no suit is higher than another.

Before the deal, one player is usually required to make forced bets, either an ante or a blind bet. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them to the players, beginning with the player on their left. The first player to act places chips into the pot, either calling or raising depending on the rules of the specific variant being played.

Players should try to mix up their betting strategy, to keep their opponents guessing about their intentions. If your opponent knows exactly what you have, you won’t be able to extract maximum value from your strong hands, and your bluffs will never get through. Practice by playing frequently and watching experienced players to develop quick instincts. Also, study bet sizes and position to improve your game.