Poker is a card game that has a large component of chance. In the long run, however, winning hands are largely determined by decisions players make on the basis of probability, psychology and game theory. There are several betting intervals in the course of a Poker deal, and players must balance their desire to maximize their wins with their ability to minimize losses with poor hands.

The first step in playing Poker is establishing the pot’s initial stake by placing one or more chips into it before cards are dealt. This is called “calling.” Players who call a bet either match it or raise it. Depending on the rules of the particular game, players may also bluff at this point for various reasons.

Each player is dealt 2 hole cards. Once the bets are placed, 1 additional card is dealt face up. There are then a number of betting streets, each designed to achieve a specific goal. Players must balance their desires to win with their abilities to minimize their losses with bad hands and maximize their wins with good ones.

The highest hand is the royal flush, which consists of a 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of one suit (clubs, diamonds, hearts or spades). If two hands contain identical high pairs, they are tied. If no high pair is found, a high card decides the winner. Unlike some other card games, a single card cannot be used to tie a hand, and the rank of a second card determines the ranking of the entire hand.