Poker is a card game in which players compete to win money or chips. It is played in many variations, but all of them share a number of essential features.

Players begin with an ante, usually in the form of a certain number of chips; this is paid to the pot before the first deal is made. Each player receives one facedown hole card and one card faceup. After the ante is paid, each active player is dealt three rounds of cards, followed by a betting interval.

In each round, a player may bet, call, or raise his ante. When a player raises, he must bet more than the previous bettor; when a player calls, he must match the previous bettor’s bet.

Hands in poker are valued in inverse proportion to their mathematical frequency; that is, the more unusual a hand is, the higher it ranks. The highest possible hand is five of a kind, which beats any straight flush. The next highest hand is a pair of aces, which beats a pair of queens or kings.

Ties in poker are broken by the high card, which is the card with the highest rank among the cards in each hand. If more than two hands have the same high card, the ties are broken by the second highest card.

Poker is a game of skill and psychology, with the ability to read your opponents’ actions being key. It is a game that requires the ability to think in a cold, detached, and logical manner, despite the fact that your opponent’s actions might seem very emotional or superstitious at times.