Poker is a card game played by two or more players and involves betting. The object is to win money by executing the most profitable actions (bet, raise, or fold) based on the information at hand and with the goal of maximizing long-term expectation.
Each player takes a number of cards and then bets. If a player bets and no opponents call the bet, the hand ends and the bettor receives the pot. Players may also exchange cards during the betting interval if they wish. Unlike most other games that involve betting, poker allows for bluffing, which is an important element of the game and can sometimes make a bad hand competitive.
A hand consists of two personal cards dealt and the five community cards on the table. It is possible to form a variety of hands, including straights and flushes. A full house consists of three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank, and a pair is made up of two cards of the same rank plus two unmatched cards. A higher-ranking pair beats a lower-ranking pair and a flush beats a straight.
It is important to understand how to read other players in order to maximize your chances of winning. For example, if a player raises pre-flop from early position it is generally a good sign that they have a strong hand. This is because they are able to see all the community cards and can therefore make better decisions on how to play their hand.