The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game that can be played by two or more people. Its popularity is greatest in North America, where it is played in private homes, in card clubs and in casinos. It is also played over the Internet. The game is governed by rules and customs that ensure a fair game. It is often considered a game of skill, but luck can play a significant role as well.

The object of the game is to win a pot, or sum of all bets placed during one deal. The pot is won either by having the highest-ranking poker hand or by making a bet that no other player calls. There are many different forms of the game, and each is played with a slightly different strategy.

When playing poker, it is important to keep your cards hidden from other players. This is called “playing it close to the vest.” If a player can see your cards, she will have an advantage over you. Experts know how to hide tells, or unconscious physical signals that give away the strength of their hands. These tells include facial expressions, body language and nervous habits like biting your nails or rubbing your eyes.

When it is your turn to act, you can choose to call the bet (match it) or raise it. Saying “raise” indicates that you want to add more money to the betting pool. Adding more money to the pot forces weaker hands to fold and increases your chances of winning the hand.