Poker is a card game where players compete for an amount of money or chips contributed by all players (called the pot). The player with the highest hand wins. Players must ante something (amount varies by game) to get dealt cards, and then bet into the pot in clockwise order. Players can call, raise, or fold depending on the strength of their hand and their prediction of other players’ actions.

There are many forms of poker, but the most popular is Texas hold ’em. In Texas hold ’em, two cards are dealt to each player (called hole cards) and five community cards are dealt face up in three stages: the flop, the turn, and the river. Each player tries to make the best five-card poker hand with their own two hole cards and the community cards.

Official poker rules differ between cash games and tournaments, but the basics are the same. Some differences include whether the game is pot limit or fixed limit, the minimum bet amount, and the maximum raise amount. In addition, some games are played with real money (called “cash” or ring game), while others are played for play chips that represent money.

A key to becoming a great poker player is committing to smart game selection. This means choosing the proper limits and game variations for your bankroll, as well as finding games that are both fun and profitable. It also requires discipline and perseverance, and the ability to stay focused and calm under pressure.