Poker is a card game played between two or more players and with varying amounts of money. Originally considered a game of chance, it began to incorporate elements of skill around the Civil War and is now played worldwide. In some countries, it is a regulated activity with strict rules of play.

A player may choose to play a hand with only the cards they hold or may combine them with those on the table. Depending on the game rules, this can be done during or after betting rounds. Some games also allow the exchange of cards after a certain number of betting rounds, although this isn’t common in professional games.

The goal of a poker game is to have the highest ranked poker hand at the end of the betting phase. This can be accomplished by having the best ranked hand or by continuing to raise your bets until all other players drop out of the hand. The winner of the hand then takes the “pot” – all the bets made in that deal.

There are many different poker variations, but Texas hold’em is by far the most popular. It’s a good idea to study some of these other variants as well, and to familiarize yourself with the terminology used in the game. For example, you’ll need to know what a tell is, and understand how to recognize one. This is an important skill to have in poker, because it helps you determine whether a player is bluffing or not.