Poker is a game of betting and comparing cards to determine the best hand. It is part of a family of card games that vary in the number and type of cards, the number of rounds of betting, the way hands are revealed, and other features. Some games use wild cards, while others use suits or other special features. Most of the rules are identical across the different forms.

In poker, the first player in turn to act is required to make forced bets – either an ante or blind bet – before any other players may place chips into the pot. The dealer then shuffles the cards, and the player on the chair to his right cuts. The dealer then deals each player a hand of cards, face up or down, depending on the particular variant of poker being played. Each round of betting usually lasts until the bets on that deal are equalized or everyone has dropped.

One player is designated the banker, who keeps track of the number of chips each player has in front of him and records how many chips each player has bought from the banker. Players are not allowed to privately exchange any of their chips, but must obtain them from the banker in cash or credit.

By agreement, the players may establish a pot fund called a “kitty” to pay for new decks of cards and other expenses for the poker game. The kitty is built up by players “cutting” a low-denomination chip into the pot each time there is more than one raise on a betting round. Any chips left in the kitty when the game ends belong to the players still playing in that poker room and are not to be taken by any other party.