Poker is a card game played with a number of players. Each player attempts to form the best five-card poker hand. The winner takes the pot.

Players must place at least the minimum bet into the pot. The stakes vary according to the type of poker. Fixed-limit games limit betting to the minimum amount, while stud poker has a higher limit. In some fixed-limit games, a doubling stake is permitted after a short number of raises.

Each hand begins with the player to the left of the button being the first to act. This player must post a small blind and a big blind. Normally, the blinds are equal to the minimum bet.

The dealer deals three cards to each player. These cards are face down. Ties are broken by the second highest card. If the dealer is jack or worse, the play wager is returned to the player.

Players can bluff by making a bet claiming to have the best hand. However, all but one player may fold. When a player folds, he or she forfeits both the ante and the play wager.

After the first round of betting, a showdown occurs when all of the hands are revealed. The winner is the player with the highest-ranking hand. A pair of aces is considered the lowest pair.

The optimal strategy for a straight or flush is to play all hands that rank greater than six. Alternatively, a player may use a “range” to estimate his or her visual range.