Poker is a card game in which players place bets on the relative strength of their hands. The game can be played in a variety of ways, and the best hand wins the pot. Unlike other casino games, no forced bets are made, and money is placed into the pot voluntarily by players who believe that their actions will improve their expected winnings. Nevertheless, the game is still largely determined by chance and by player-chosen actions based on game theory, psychology, and probability.

In most cases, the dealer shuffles the cards, and each player cuts once. The dealer then deals each player a number of cards, starting with the player to his or her immediate right. The cards may be dealt face-up or face-down, depending on the variant of poker being played. Between each deal there is a betting round, with bets placed into the central pot.

At the end of each betting round, the best 5-card hand wins the pot. Occasionally, ties can occur. In these cases, the player with the highest pair or high card breaks ties. The higher the pair or high card, the more valuable the hand.

Poker is normally played from a standard pack of 52 cards with four suits (spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs) and an ace. Some games also use wild cards. These can take the form of jokers or specific cards such as deuces and one-eye jacks. The ace is usually high, but the rank of individual cards may be specified by the particular game being played.