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The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game in which players wager chips on the outcome of a hand. It can be played with two to 14 players, although six or more people are usually the ideal number for a game. The object is to win the “pot,” or the sum of all bets made during a single deal, by having the highest-ranking poker hand when the cards are revealed at the end of a betting round. A player may also win by continuously raising bets until other players drop out of the hand.

During each betting interval, or “round,” a player must decide whether to call (match) the amount of the last bet, raise (“increase”) that bet, or fold (“drop”) their hand and forfeit the next round’s bet. The game is mainly played with standard 52-card English decks. The cards are usually dealt in a clockwise direction, with one person holding the button (“dealer”) and dealing each round.

Poker originated in the United States, and was popular among crews of riverboats transporting goods up and down the Mississippi River. The game spread after the Civil War, and became a fixture in Wild West saloons. While the game began as a pure gamble, it soon developed into a mixture of chance and skill. This mixed game of chance and skill continues to be the basis of most modern poker games. There are several variants of the game, but all use the same basic rules and hand strength rankings.