Poker is a card game in which players wager money on the outcome of a hand. It has become one of the most popular card games in the world and has a long history that spans centuries. While the game is largely a matter of chance, there are a number of strategies that can improve a player’s chances of winning. These include the use of probability, psychology, and game theory.

Before cards are dealt, one or more players must place an initial amount of money into the pot. These are called forced bets and come in the form of antes, blinds, or bring-ins. After the forced bets are made, the dealer shuffles the deck and then deals cards to each player, starting with the person sitting to their left. The cards may be dealt face-up or face-down, depending on the rules of the specific poker variant being played.

During each betting interval (the pre-flop, the flop, the turn, and the river), players can either call or fold their hand. If they call, they must match or raise the previous player’s bet. If they fold, they forfeit the money that they have already bet.

A good poker player has the ability to read other players and understand their motivations. They must also know the strengths and weaknesses of their own hand. They must be able to weigh their chances of winning against the odds of a better hand, and they must be able to make decisions quickly. Moreover, they must be able to identify tells – unconscious habits that reveal information about a player’s hand.