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Poker is a card game played by a group of people. There are countless variants of the game, each of which has its own rules and strategies. It is a competitive skill game in which players attempt to make the best possible hand, but is also highly dependent on chance.

In poker, each player is dealt five cards face down. After the deal, each player may bet or fold, depending on the specific variant of the game being played. After each betting interval, a showdown is held in which the player with the best hand wins the pot.

The first round of betting begins with the player to the left of the dealer, who is designated by a button, which may be a piece of paper, a token, or a white plastic disk. The button is rotated clockwise among the players to indicate a nominal dealer.

Next, the dealer “burns” one card from the top of the deck and deals three community cards (the flop). The small blind (the player to the left of the big blind) is the first to act, folding, calling, or raising his bet; if no other players raise their bets, the big blind may check or raise his own bet.

After the flop, each player receives three more cards (the turn), and then a final card (the river). Each player can discard up to three of his cards, which will be replaced by the next card dealt, in order to improve his hand.

There are four standard poker hands: a pair of kings, a pair of aces, a flush, and a straight. These are each ranked in inverse proportion to their mathematical frequency, and the player with the highest ranking is considered to have the best hand. The highest combination is often called the royal flush, but it is not required to win.

The high card breaks ties, and can be used to determine the winner of the hand. If two players have the same high card, it is usually considered a tie.

Before the deal, each player is required to place an ante. This ante is the amount of money that the player must pay to be able to see his own cards, as well as to make a bet. The ante is generally paid to the person who makes the first bet, but it can also be paid to any other player if they wish.

Each round of betting consists of the player to the left of the dealer making a bet, and the first player to make a bet to the right of him in the interval. The next player to make a bet is said to call, and the next to call is said to raise.

When a player calls, he makes a bet equal to the amount of the previous bet. When a player raises, he increases the amount of the bet by a certain percentage, as defined by the poker variant.