Poker is a card game of skill and chance that has become an international phenomenon. It is played in a variety of ways, but most forms involve the players contributing chips (representing money) into the pot. A player may also be required to make a contribution before the cards are dealt; this is called being in the pot or being active.
When a player holds a strong hand, he or she can try to win the pot by betting at a rate that will force weaker hands to call their bets. This technique is called bluffing. It can be successful even when the player’s hand is not a strong one, because a weaker hand will usually fold rather than face the possibility that he or she is holding a good hand.
In a game of poker, the best hand is a five-card combination that consists of a pair or three of a kind. A pair consists of two cards of the same rank; a full house is any five-card combination that includes at least three consecutive cards of the same suit; and a flush is any five cards that are all the same rank, but not necessarily in sequence or suits.
Players can also increase the value of their hand by bluffing, but they must have the proper confidence to project when bluffing. More experienced players can tell a conservative player from an aggressive player by watching the way they bet. Conservative players tend to be cautious about their bets and are easily bluffed by players with stronger hands. Aggressive players, on the other hand, are risk-takers and often bet large amounts early in a hand before they know how their cards will play.