Poker is a card game in which players bet against each other by placing chips or cash in the center of the table called the pot. In addition to betting, players may also exchange cards during the course of a hand. A player who has the best five-card hand wins the pot.

A dealer is responsible for shuffling and dealing the cards to the players. This person is assigned a “button” and passes it to the next player clockwise after each round of betting. In some cases, a non-player can act as the dealer, though this is not common at most tables.

The first step in poker is to place a forced bet, usually an ante or blind bet, into the pot before you can begin playing. Once the bets are in, you’ll receive your first two cards. If you like the value of your cards, you can say “stay” to keep them or say “hit” to get another card from the dealer.

If you have a pair of matching cards, this is called two pairs. A flush is 5 cards of consecutive rank, while a straight is 5 cards in sequence but from different suits. A full house is three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank.

Studying experienced players can help you learn about their strategies and avoid making mistakes yourself. However, it is important to develop your own style and instincts as you play the game.