Poker is a family of card games in which players wager over which hand is best according to the game’s rules. It is played worldwide in a variety of gambling establishments and events. Some rules vary widely, but all poker games involve betting in one or more rounds. The popularity of the game increased rapidly in the United States during the turn of the millennium, culminating in the poker boom a few years later. The game’s popularity is due in part to the fact that it is a game of chance with a strong element of bluffing.
The cards used in poker are standardized packs of 52, with two jokers (added only to some games) that act as wild cards. The card distribution and the number of cards shared by all players varies among the different poker variants. The poker games differ in the number of antes, blind bets and raises allowed, and how the final showdown takes place.
In a typical poker game, the deck is shuffled and then dealt to the players in rotation, beginning with the player to his or her right. The player on the chair to his or her right may cut. The dealer then shuffles and deals each player a number of cards, either face up or face down, depending on the game. The first player to reveal his or her cards takes the pot.
During the course of the hand, players can bet against one another, or simply call (match) the previous player’s bet. If a player makes a bet that no other players call, they win the pot without showing their hand. The pot can also be won by a player who correctly guesses the strength of other players’ hands.
There are a number of other important poker rules. It is essential that each player protect his or her cards from exposure by placing something on top of them, such as a hand or a chip. In addition, a player must always play his or her hand in a manner that is appropriate for the type of game being played.
In most poker games, players use chips to represent money. Normally, a white chip is worth the minimum ante or bet; each other color represents a higher amount, such as ten, twenty, or fifty white chips. Players who are “in the pot” (playing the hand) must pay in enough chips to cover the total contribution of the player before him. When a player pays in a bet, he or she is said to have acted as the “button.” Generally, a button is passed around the table and indicated by a token called a buck. This indicates the nominal dealer for betting purposes. In some poker environments, such as casinos and tournaments, a professional dealer handles the cards for each hand, and a round disc known as the button is passed clockwise to indicate the player who has the privilege or obligation of making the first bet.