Poker is a card game played in various forms throughout the world. It is a fast-paced game in which players bet on the strength of their hands. The player with the highest hand wins the pot. Players may also bluff, betting that they have the best hand when in fact they do not.

A standard pack of 52 cards plus a joker (also known as the bug) is used in most games. The cards are ranked (from high to low) A, K, Q, J, 10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2. There are four suits—spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. Some games use different suits or add cards known as wilds, such as deuces and one-eyed jacks.

Before a game begins an initial dealer is selected from the players by having each of them receive a card from the shuffled deck, then looking at it. This person then places a bet and becomes the first to act in each round of betting, or “turns.” The dealer’s decision on how much to bet is made from the size of his own pair.

In addition to being a very fast-paced game, poker has some of the highest stakes in gambling. It is played in casinos, private homes, and card clubs, and has become a major spectator sport. It has also been described as the national card game of the United States, and its play and jargon permeate American culture.