Poker is a card game of betting and skill in which players try to minimize their losses with bad hands while maximising their winnings with good ones. It is considered a mind sport because it requires the player to evaluate and act on the information available, making decisions using a combination of probability, psychology, and game theory.

To start the game, one or more players make forced bets (called an ante or blind bet) and then the dealer shuffles and cuts the deck. Each player is then dealt two cards face-down (hidden from other players) and the first betting round begins with the player to their left. Between each deal there may be one or more betting intervals, as dictated by the specific poker variant being played. During each of these intervals, players must place chips into the pot if they want to compete for the winning hand.

If a player does not want to compete for the winning hand, they can decline by saying “drop” or “fold.” If they do so, they must give up their two cards and are not allowed to participate in any further betting rounds.

Depending on the rules of the game being played, players may decide to establish a special fund, called a kitty, from which they can pay for things like new decks of cards or food and drinks. Any money that is left in the kitty when the game ends is divided equally among players who are still in the game.