Poker is a card game played by two or more players. It is a game of chance, but the outcome of any individual hand largely depends on the players’ decisions made on the basis of probability theory, psychology, and other factors. Players place bets based on expected value and try to bluff other players for strategic reasons.

Poker’s history is full of rumors and apocryphal origins. Some people say it originated in China, while others claim it evolved from the 17th-century French game poque and Spanish game primero. The game eventually made its way to North America.

Before the deal, each player puts in 2 mandatory bets, called blinds, into the pot before they see their cards. Once all players have matched these bets or folded their hands, the dealer burns one of the cards and deals a new card face up in the center of the table, which is known as the flop.

A hand is considered strong if it contains 4 matching cards of the same rank, such as a full house or four of a kind. A flush is five consecutive cards of the same suit, such as a straight. A pair is two matching cards of the same rank, such as two sixes. The highest pair wins.

A good strategy in poker is to push players with weaker hands out of the pot early. This forces them to call on later streets when they could have a decent drawing hand or a mediocre holding.