Poker is a card game that can be played by two or more players. It is a game of chance and skill, where the goal is to minimize losses with bad hands and maximize winnings with good ones. It is a popular pastime at home, in casinos, and in many online poker rooms.
During a hand of poker, each player contributes money to the pot (the total bet amount) by placing an ante or blind. This is usually done with chips, which can be traded in for cash at the end of the game (“cashing out”).
Before the cards are dealt, each player must place an initial contribution to the pot, called an ante. This is usually a small number of chips, and the amount may vary from one game to another.
Players can also make additional bets during a hand, which are known as raises. This adds more money to the pot and makes it harder for other players to call the bet. Players can also fold, which removes them from the current hand.
It is important to keep your cards face down or held close to the chest (hence the phrase “playing them close to the vest”). If other players can see your cards, they have an advantage over you, which can hurt your chances of winning. Keeping your cards out of sight helps avoid cheating, as well. In some games, holding your cards under the table can even be considered a form of cheating.