Poker is a card game that requires some degree of skill to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize winnings with good ones. It is played in casinos and in home games. Some players may play under what are called table stakes rules, in which each player starts a hand with a fixed amount of money. A player may not add or remove that money from play during a hand, although they may buy more chips at the table.

One of the most important aspects of official poker is playing within the rules. This includes maintaining an appropriate minimum and maximum buy-in in cash game poker, observing the time limit on how long a player can take to call a clock on another player and ensuring that a game is not overturned or otherwise disrupted by a single player. It also includes protecting a player’s cards, if possible, or making sure they are clear to all other players.

Most casinos and some public cardrooms require players to protect their hands by either holding them or by placing a chip or other object on top of them, so that the dealer can not touch them. This is known as a protective hand and it can make or break a player’s chance of winning.

In some types of fixed-limit games, players may establish a fund, or “kitty,” that is used to pay for new decks of cards and food and drink. Any money left in the kitty when a game ends belongs to all the players still playing in it equally. However, the kitty can be used by a single player to raise a hand by a pre-determined amount, usually 1.5 times (a half kill) or doubled (a full kill).