Official poker is the game of cards in which players wager against each other to win a pot. The game can be played in private homes for pennies or matchsticks, and in countless casinos for thousands of dollars. There is much luck involved, but a considerable amount of skill as well.
Before the cards are dealt, one or more players must put an initial contribution into the pot, depending on the rules of the particular game. This contribution is called an ante. In addition to the antes, there may also be blind bets.
After the antes and blind bets are placed, the dealer shuffles the cards and deals them to the players, starting with the player on their left. The cards can be dealt face-up or face-down, and the players may decide how to act on their hands as they see fit. The betting continues for one or more rounds, and the players try to minimize their losses with weak hands and maximize their winnings with strong ones.
A key part of poker is bluffing, and players often attempt to confuse or mislead opponents by making actions that are not their turn. For example, it is not a good idea to verbally tell your opponent what type of hand you have folded, because they might be able to use this information against you in future betting rounds.
A common practice in poker is to establish a special fund for the game, called the kitty. The kitty is built up by “cutting” (taking) one low-denomination chip from each pot in which there is more than one raise. This money is used to pay for new decks of cards and for food and drinks.