A game of skill and strategy, Poker is one of the most popular card games in the world. It has grown from a bluffing game for a few friends in the bar to a spectator sport with television broadcasts of professional events. Whether it is played in a casino in Las Vegas or in a home game, poker requires skill and knowledge of how to read other players to be successful.

While there are hundreds of variations of poker, most share similar elements. The game begins with players placing an amount of money into a pot before being dealt cards. These bets are called antes, blinds or bring-ins.

Once the bets are made, players are dealt two cards that they hide from the other players. A betting phase begins with the player to the left of the big blind. In some variants of the game, three additional cards are dealt face up in the center of the table. These are known as the flop and they form the basis of everyone’s 5-card hand.

A player’s poker hand must consist of five distinct cards to win the game. Some hands are better than others. A full house is a combination of 3 matching cards of one rank and 2 matching cards of another rank. A flush is any 5 consecutive cards of the same suit. A straight is five cards in a row of different ranks but in sequence. The highest card breaks ties.