Poker is a card game that involves betting between players and a dealer. The game has many variants, but all share certain key features: a central pot for all bets (with raising and re-raising), a basic set of rules, and a deck of cards. A player wins the pot by having a hand consisting of five consecutive cards of the same suit, or a higher-ranking hand such as four of a kind or a full house.

Before the cards are dealt, all players must place a mandatory bet, called an ante. The dealer then shuffles and deals each player a number of cards, depending on the variant being played. The players then place bets in one or more rounds, and at the end of each round, all remaining chips are gathered into the central pot.

The first thing to remember when playing poker is that position is everything. Being in late position allows you to manipulate the pot on later betting streets by making simple, cheap bluffs. Conversely, early positions often have bad bluffing opportunities, since your opponent will likely think you have a good hand that is unlikely to improve.

Another important point to keep in mind is that you should always fold weak hands. Even a face card paired with a low card isn’t usually a strong hand, as you can usually expect a player to raise. The best way to learn the game is by playing and observing other players, and developing quick instincts.