In poker, players place bets (representing money) into a central pot in the course of playing a hand. This process of betting usually occurs over one or more betting intervals, depending on the particular game variant being played. Players may also bluff in an attempt to win the pot.
The goal is to have the highest-ranked hand at the end of a series of betting rounds. A hand consists of five cards and has a value in inverse proportion to its mathematical frequency, with rarer combinations yielding higher ranks. Players may raise the amount they bet, forcing other players to call their bets or fold, or simply concede and take no more cards. In addition to luck, poker is a game of psychological savvy and emotional control. Players must learn to make decisions in spite of their emotions, and must also be able to adapt to changing situations.
There are many variations of poker, but most involve a fixed number of players and a single dealer. The dealer shuffles the cards and deals them to each player in turn, beginning with the player on their left. The player on the right may cut the deck before each deal.
In most games, a pair of distinct cards is the lowest possible hand. If more than one hand qualifies as a pair, the higher rank wins (four of a kind beats three of a kind, for example). A high card breaks ties in hands that do not qualify as a pair, three of a kind or a flush.