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Poker is a card game in which players place bets on the value of their hands. The game can be played by two to seven people, although it is most popular with five or six. It is a game of chance, but skill and psychology play important roles in the game. The object of the game is to win a “pot,” or the sum total of bets in a single deal. Each player competes for this by raising the bet if they believe that they have the best hand, or folding if they do not.

There are many different variations of the game, but most involve betting and cards being dealt to each player. A hand of five cards is usually considered the best, and the values of these hands are in inverse proportion to their mathematical frequency (five aces beats four kings and three queens). The game is played with a standard 52-card English deck, plus one joker or wild card, which can substitute for any other card and can be used to form certain special hands.

The dealer shuffles the cards, then deals them out to the players in the direction specified. Players may choose to cut the deck, allowing them to pick up replacement cards to improve their hands. In some games the players’ cards are re-arranged between rounds of betting and replaced with new ones. In fixed-limit games no player may raise a bet by more than the established limit in each betting interval.