Poker is a card game that requires players to make the best hand according to the specific rules of that version of the game. The game is widely played in home games and in countless poker rooms in casinos around the world. Poker can be played socially for pennies or matchsticks, or professionally for thousands of dollars.
In most poker games, players place an initial bet (amount varies by game) before being dealt cards. Once the cards are dealt, players place additional bets into a pot in the middle of the table. The highest hand wins the pot. In some poker variations, players can protect their cards by placing their hands or chips on top of them. This is known as protecting a hand, and is one of the key elements that makes poker so exciting.
Most poker games are played with a standard 52-card pack, although some use short packs. Some poker games require a single dealer, while others utilize two dealers. In many homes and in casino games, the right to deal a hand is rotated among players using a token called the button. In a tournament, the dealer button is usually a small plastic disk.
Tournament poker differs from regular play by the inclusion of a set amount of tournament chips. These chips are not redeemed for cash, and the player who holds the most chips at the end of the event wins the prize money. Some tournaments also feature a schedule of blind levels, which determines how quickly the blinds increase. The frequency and size of the blind level changes can have a significant impact on how fast the tournament plays.