Poker is a game of chance and risk, with each player having the potential to win big or lose everything. While the game has dozens of variations, most involve an initial stake, called either a blind bet or ante. Then, players are dealt cards that they keep hidden from the rest of the table.
During the betting rounds, players may check (pass on betting), raise (put more chips into the pot that other players must match), or fold their cards. A good poker player knows when to be aggressive and when to be conservative.
In a showdown, the winner of the game receives a pot that is equal to his or her total stake if he or she has a winning hand. The highest hand is a Royal Flush, which includes 5 consecutive cards of the same suit. A Full House consists of 3 matching cards of one rank and 2 matching cards of another rank. A Straight consists of 5 consecutive cards that skip around in rank or sequence, while a Pair consists of two cards of the same rank and another pair of unmatched cards.
Poker first gained popularity in the United States in about 1900. During this period, it spread from a game played with a shuffled pack of 52 cards to the modern version of the game using a single deck. The rules of poker have also evolved over time. For instance, the lowest possible hand is now 6-4-3-2-A rather than ace-king-queen-fours.