Poker is a card game that requires a balance of skill and luck. It is a popular game played throughout the world, including in casinos and at home games.

The first step in playing poker is to place an initial contribution, called an ante, into the pot. This is usually a single chip and must be placed by one or more players to begin the deal.

Once the ante is put in, cards are dealt to each player on the table in turn, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer. A round of betting follows each deal, and in some variants a showdown is held after each round of betting.

During these rounds, players can check (i.e., pass), bet, or raise their chips. These actions may be based on a number of factors, including the strength of a hand, a player’s strategy, or bluffing.

Straight is the highest possible poker hand, consisting of five consecutive cards in sequential order, usually of the same suit. Flush is another common type of hand, consisting of five cards in consecutive order of any suit.

Two Pairs is a frequently encountered combination of three cards of the same rank and another pair of a different rank. A third common hand is a “no pair” hand, with no cards of the same rank or suit in sequential order.

The ranking of each card in a hand determines its winner. For example, a hand of ace-high beats king-high, and so on. In a tie, the two hands are split.