Poker is a card game that can be played by two or more players and involves betting on the value of one’s hand. The goal is to win the “pot,” which is the sum of all bets made during a single deal. The pot is awarded to the player with the highest-ranking hand at the showdown, or to the last remaining player who does not fold.

The rules of poker vary from game to game, but most involve the same basic principles: players must ante (put some amount into the pot) before being dealt cards; bets may be made in increments called streets; and the highest-ranking hand wins. Some games have a fixed-limit betting structure, while others use no-limit or pot-limit.

Some of the most popular poker hands are pairs, three of a kind, four of a kind, straights, and flushes. A pair is two matching cards of the same rank, three of a kind is three cards of the same rank but different suits, and a straight is five consecutive cards of the same suit. The higher the rank of a hand, the better.

While there is an element of luck in poker, the long-term results of most professional players are based on skill. This is achieved through a combination of poker knowledge, psychology, and game theory. Even the most confident players will suffer bad beats at some point, but they can minimize the impact of variance through bankroll management and by playing against opponents that they have a skill edge over.