Poker is a card game played by two or more players. The game’s object is to win the pot, which is the sum of all bets placed during a hand. Depending on the game, each player may be required to make a contribution to the pot before being dealt cards; this is known as an ante. After the ante is made, a number of betting intervals take place, and each player has the option to raise or call. A player who calls the amount of a previous raise is said to “call.”

In most forms of poker, the highest hand wins the pot. The ranking of a poker hand is based on its odds (probability). The best possible hands are royal flush (A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit); straight flush (five consecutive cards of the same suit); four of a kind (four matching cards); full house (three of a kind plus a pair); and two pairs (two matching cards).

One of the keys to success in poker is learning how to read other players. This involves watching for tells, which are non-verbal gestures that give clues to a player’s strength or weakness. For example, a player who is normally tight will often raise large bets after the flop. This is a sign that they have a strong pair and are likely to beat weaker hands. Also, watch for players who fiddle with their chips or a ring; this is a good indicator that they are holding a strong hand.