Poker is a card game in which players place chips into a pot (representing money) to compete for a winning 5-card hand. The player who has the best hand wins all of the chips that were put down as buy-ins at the table. There are often rules for how this money is shared among the remaining players.

Before cards are dealt, a player designated by the rules of the specific poker variant will make a bet. This means that the player to his left must either “call” that bet, putting into the pot the same number of chips as the player before him, or raise (adding more than the previous bet amount). If he does not want to call or raise, he must “drop” (“fold”) his hand and leave the betting round.

Once the cards are dealt, there will be one or more betting intervals, followed by a showdown at which all of the players reveal their hands and whoever has the highest hand wins the pot (all the money placed in the betting). There may be a tie, in which case the winner is determined by comparing the cards held by each player.

The game is fast-paced and requires a great deal of concentration. It is important to know your opponents and read their body language, which can give away their strategy. Some common tells include shallow breathing, a sighing noise, flaring nostrils, staring into the cards, or shaking hands. Observing experienced players will help you develop your instincts over time.