A game in which players bet chips (representing money) on the outcome of a hand, poker is widely played both for recreation and as a source of income. It is considered a game of skill and is often taught to young people as a way to learn decision-making.

Almost all poker games are played with poker chips, which represent different amounts of money. A white chip is worth one dollar, a red chip is worth five dollars, and so on. Chips are used instead of cash because they are easier to stack, count, keep track of, and make change with. They also promote an air of elegance that a player may find desirable when competing against more experienced players.

At the start of a game of poker, each player “buys in” for a certain amount of chips. This is done to establish the minimum ante and to provide an incentive for players to participate in the hand.

Once all the players have purchased their chips, the first two mandatory bets, called blinds, are put into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. Then the cards are dealt and the betting starts.

The highest hand wins the pot, with some exceptions. Most poker games use a standard 52-card deck, with the suits ranked from high to low: spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. Some games also add wild cards or jokers.

After the cards are dealt, each player must choose to fold his or her hand, call a bet, or raise the current bet. A player who raises the bet has the right to continue raising as long as he or she is not checked by other players.

Maria says that learning to read players’ betting patterns is an important part of playing poker well. Conservative players tend to be more patient and will only stay in a hand when they think they have a good chance of winning, while aggressive players are risk-takers that bet high early on to try and get their opponents to fold.

Whether or not they have a good hand, each player must decide how much to bet. If they call a bet, they must place in the pot enough chips (representing money) to cover the current bet and any raises. They must then reveal their cards to the other players.

Let’s say you’re dealt a pair of kings off the deal. You’re not exactly thrilled, but it’s a decent hand to begin with. Then the betting begins: Alex opens by putting a dime into the pot, Charley calls, and Dennis raises a dime. Then it’s your turn. Do you call, raise, or fold?