Poker is a card game where players compete to win the pot (the total amount of money bet during one deal) by having the highest-ranking hand. There are many variations of poker, and the rules vary slightly from one variation to the next. However, the basic principles are similar: players place bets on the strength of their hands and bluff when they believe they can make their opponents fold for various strategic reasons. The game relies on a combination of probability, psychology, and game theory to maximize profits.

The game begins when a hand of cards is dealt to each player. A round of betting takes place, and once the bets are placed the dealer deals three additional cards face up on the table, which anyone can use in order to improve their hand. These cards are called the flop.

There are several different types of poker hands, and the rank of a hand is determined by the number of matching cards it contains. A royal flush contains all of the highest-ranking cards in a single suit. Four of a kind contains four cards of the same rank, and a full house contains three cards of the same rank, and two unmatched cards.

A straight contains five consecutive cards of the same suit. A pair contains two cards of the same rank, and a high card breaks ties. There are many other combinations of poker hands, but these are the most common.

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