Official poker is a game in which players compete for an amount of money or chips contributed by all the players (called the pot). Players exchange cash or tokens for chips that represent dollar amounts. Chip colors distinguish different denominations. Most establishments use the same values for their different poker chips, but tournaments often have higher denominations. The rules of the game also vary from venue to venue and from country to country, though many follow similar general guidelines.

Whether you play at home, in a local card room or a casino, you should understand the basic rules of poker to avoid making the same mistakes others have made before. Having a good understanding of poker etiquette will improve the atmosphere at the table and help you win more often.

In most cases, poker is played with standard 52-card packs that include one or two jokers. The dealer has the privilege of selecting the form of the game to be played and designating the ante, wild cards (if any), and the maximum amount that may be wagered on each hand.

It is common practice to shuffle the cards between deals, and this helps speed up the pace of play. Some casinos and card rooms use two packs of contrasting colors to make the process even faster.

It is also customary for players to make their own rules, called house rules, to suit their personal preferences and style of play. However, these should be clearly written and understood by everyone at the table.