Poker is a card game that can be played with any number of players from 2 to 14, although in most variants the ideal number is 6 or 7. The object of the game is to win the “pot,” which is the aggregate of all the bets made by all players in a particular deal. The pot may be won either by having the highest-ranking hand or by making a bet that no other player calls.
The rules of poker vary with different variants, but the essential features remain. The cards are dealt face down, and each player has the right to reveal his or her hand as soon as possible.
Each betting round, called a hand, lasts until all players have either called or folded their bet. If a hand is not completed, the player who was the dealer is entitled to collect the pot (usually the last bet).
When someone has just called, the next player on the left can say “call.” That means that he or she will make a bet equal to the amount of money called by the person on the right. The player can then call or fold, depending on his or her strategy.
Another important rule of poker is that no bet or raise may exceed the number of chips in the pot at that time. This limit applies to both the initial bet and the subsequent raises.
The rank of standard poker hands is determined by their odds; that is, the higher the hand, the more likely it is to win. In standard games, the lowest possible hand is a pair, and higher-ranking hands are three of a kind or better. If two or more identical hands tie on the rank of a pair, three of a kind, or four of a kind, the outside cards break ties according to the High Card rules.