Poker is a card game played by two or more players. It has a number of variants, but most share the same basic rules: one or more players are required to place an initial amount into the pot (representing money; in poker chips) before the cards are dealt. This is called a forced bet. It is usually in the form of an ante, a blind bet, or a bring-in. The dealer shuffles and deals the cards, and then the first of what may be several betting intervals begins.

A player must either call the bet (put in an equal amount) or raise it (put in more than the previous highest bet). When a player has a good poker hand, they will continue to raise their bets in order to win the pot. If a player has a bad poker hand, they will fold, or drop out of the game.

In addition to being a fun, social game, poker has also become a spectator sport. Tournaments and televised events attract large audiences. The popularity of poker has increased since the early 21st century, in part because of the rise of online poker and the invention of the hole-card camera that makes the game more interesting to watch.

A good poker writer must be able to understand the game and its variations, and know how to read the tells of other players, which are unconscious habits in the body language and facial expressions of players that reveal information about their hands. They can be as simple as a change in posture or as complex as a gesture.