Poker is a card game that requires a lot of skill and strategy. It can be played in a variety of settings, including glitzy casinos and seedy dives. It is also an extremely popular pastime among amateurs and professionals alike.

The basic rules of Poker are similar in many variations. The game begins with a dealer dealing one facedown card to each player, followed by a betting interval. The cards are then revealed and a showdown is held, in which the highest poker hand wins.

A standard 52-card pack of cards, with contrasting colors and sometimes with jokers, is used. Two packs are commonly used in club games and among the top players to speed up the game.

Betting is the key to Poker, for it combines chip management with chance and strategy. A player is considered to be in the pot, or an active player, when he places the number of chips required to make his total contribution to the pot at least equal to that of the player to his left.

When a player is in the pot, he can choose to “call” (bet) or to “fold” (not bet). If a player folds, they discard their hand and may no longer compete in the game.

If a player is in the pot and does not have a made hand, it is often a good idea to call. This is because the odds of winning are usually much greater than the cost of calling.