Poker is a card game that involves betting and is played by two or more players. It is a game of chance, but skill and psychology are also important. Players must be able to read their opponents and make decisions based on probability and game theory. The game has many variants and rules, but the most common are described below.

Each player places an ante wager before being dealt three cards. They then decide whether to play the hand or fold it. If they decide to continue betting, they must place a bet equal to the amount they put in as their ante.

After all bets are made, the players reveal their hands and the winner takes the pot. However, a player may only win the pot to which they have contributed in any given round of betting, or they may lose their rights in the original pot to another player. There can be side pots as well.

The game began to gain popularity around the turn of the century. This was largely due to the invention of the hole-card camera, which turned poker into a spectator sport. Television broadcasts of the World Series of Poker and other events drew large audiences. The popularity of Texas hold ’em in particular helped to fuel a poker boom during the 2003–2006 period.

In addition to being a fun and social activity, poker can also be a very profitable pastime. However, like all gambling activities, it is necessary to keep accurate records and pay taxes on your winnings. If you do not want to face the possibility of a tax audit, it is best to limit your gambling income to amounts you can afford to lose.

As with any game, the more you practice, the better you will become. But you should always be open to new strategies and ideas. Even the most experienced players continuously seek out ways to improve their game. This is why it’s so helpful to play with friends who take the game more seriously than you do. They can give you insights that you would never be able to learn on your own. They can help you see things about your game that you might not have noticed before, and they can teach you new strategies that will make you a more consistent and effective player.