Poker is a card game in which players wager money and attempt to make the best hand using their cards and the rules of the game. It can be played in casual games at home, in clubs, and in casinos or on the Internet. It is sometimes called the national card game of the United States, and its play and jargon permeate American culture.

A standard poker hand consists of five cards. In most variants a player’s highest-ranked hand wins the pot. However, some players may use bluffing to win the pot even though they do not have a high hand. This is known as semi bluffing.

Before a hand is dealt, each player must contribute to the pot by making some form of forced bet, either the blind or ante. Once the betting round is over, players reveal their cards and evaluate their hands. If more than one player remains after the final betting interval, a showdown occurs and the player with the best hand wins the pot.

In some games, such as hi-lo, the best high hand wins half of the pot and the best low hand wins the other half. The low hand must “qualify” to win the lower portion of the pot–that is, have at least five cards below eight.

The highest-ranking hand breaks ties when there are multiple hands that qualify as pairs, three of a kind, or four of a kind. In these cases, the highest-ranked pair wins (for example, two aces beats five kings). The high card also breaks ties in the case of hands that do not qualify as pairs or higher.