Poker is a card game in which players make bets based on the cards they have and on the action in the table. It is played in casinos, private homes, clubs, and over the Internet. It is considered the national card game of the United States, where it has become a popular pastime and a major source of entertainment. It has also been adapted for television shows and is represented in films and literature.

There are several rules that must be followed in poker, depending on the game being played. For example, players must always ante before they can place bets. In addition, the player to their immediate left must post the small blind or pay the big blind. This position is called the button. The button moves around the table clockwise after each hand.

Once the bets are placed, the dealer shuffles the cards and deals each player two face-down and one face-up card. Each player must then decide whether to call (match) the bet of the person before him, raise his own bet, or fold. If he does not raise his bet, he forfeits his turn in the game and must withdraw from the pot.

After each round of betting, three additional cards are dealt to the table for everyone to share. This is known as the flop and is another opportunity to place bets. If you have a good poker hand, it is often best to bet at this point in order to force weaker hands out of the pot and to increase the value of your own poker hand.