The game of poker can be played by 2 to 14 players and involves betting on the basis of a hand. The objective is to win the pot, which is the sum of all the bets placed during one deal, by having a high-ranking poker hand or by making a bet that no other player calls.

Each player receives 2 cards face down, and there is a round of betting. The first player to act, designated by the rules of the specific poker variant being played, places a mandatory bet called a blind into the pot, which must be raised by the player to his or her left in turn. There is an optional bet after the flop, called the turn, and another option after the river, called the river.

Players must choose whether to call, raise or fold their cards. If they have a strong hand, they may choose to raise to force weak hands out of the game or bluff in order to win the pot.

Mathematically, it is possible to calculate the odds of getting a certain hand, although these calculations can be difficult for novices to master. In practice, it is more important to learn how to read your opponents and take into account their bets. For example, a very conservative player will not make large bets early in a hand and can often be bluffed into folding, while an aggressive player will bet high on the pre-flop and flop, but may fold on the river.