Poker is a card game in which players place bets against each other. The goal is to win the pot, or the sum total of all bets made during a single hand. While some of the bets may be forced, most are placed voluntarily by players who choose to make bets because they believe that they have positive expected value or because they are trying to bluff other players for strategic reasons.
A poker player is required to make a minimum bet before being dealt a hand, called the ante. Then they can either call (match the amount of the bet), raise (put in more than the bet), or fold. The player who has the best five-card hand wins the pot.
If you’re just starting out, the easiest way to learn the basics is by playing for fun with friends in their homes or at local community centers. There are also many online poker sites that offer free games to new players, so you can try it out before committing any money.
Once you’ve mastered the basic rules, it’s time to learn the lingo. It’s important to know what each term means before you play, because poker is all about betting and understanding the odds of a certain hand. For instance, you need to understand that a flush beats three of a kind and a straight beats two pair. You can find a number of charts online that explain these differences and others.