Poker is a card game that involves betting and a fair amount of skill. It is played by two or more people and usually takes place in a casino, home, or poker club. The object is to win the pot, which is the sum of all the bets made in a single deal. The pot may be won by having the highest-ranking hand, or by making a bet that no other player calls. The game is widely popular in the United States, where it is often referred to as the national card game.
In most poker variants, players must first ante (the amount varies by game but is generally less than a nickel) to get dealt cards. Once the betting interval is over, the players reveal their hands and the player with the best hand wins the pot. The winning hand must consist of at least three cards of the same rank and two unmatched cards. A straight contains five consecutive cards of the same suit, a flush includes at least three cards of the same suit, and a pair is two cards of the same rank with one unmatched card.
In addition to learning the game rules, it is important for beginners to learn how to read other players and watch for tells. These include nervous gestures such as fiddling with chips or wearing a ring, as well as body language. These can help a beginner determine whether or not an opponent is holding a strong hand.