Poker Room at the Trump Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Poker is a card game, the most popular of a class of games called vying games, in which players with fully or partially concealed cards make wagers into a central pot, which is awarded to the player or players with the best combination of cards or to the player who makes an uncalled bet. Poker can also refer to video poker, a single-player game seen in casinos much like a slot machine, or to other games that use poker hand rankings.
Poker is played in hundreds of variations, but most follow the same basic pattern of play.
The right to deal each hand typically rotates among the players and is marked by a token called a button or buck. In a casino a house dealer handles the cards for each hand, but a button (typically a white plastic disk) is rotated among the players to indicate a nominal dealer to determine the order of betting.
For each hand, one or more players are required to make forced bets to create an initial stake for which the players will contest. The dealer shuffles the cards, he or another player cuts, and the appropriate number of cards are dealt to the players one at a time. After the initial deal, the first of what may be several betting rounds begins. Between rounds, the players’ hands develop in some way, often by being dealt additional cards or replacing cards previously dealt. At the end of each round, all bets are gathered into the central pot.
At any time during a betting round, if a player makes a bet, opponents are required to match it or to surrender their cards and forfeit their interest in the pot. If one player bets and no opponents choose to match the bet, the deal ends immediately, the bettor is awarded the pot, no cards are required to be shown, and the next deal begins. The ability to win a pot without showing a hand makes bluffing possible. Bluffing is a primary feature of poker, one that distinguishes it from other vying games and from other games that make use of poker hand rankings.
At the end of the last betting round, if more than one player remains, there is a showdown, in which the players reveal their previously hidden cards and evaluate their hands. The player with the best hand according to the poker variant being played wins the pot.
Most popular poker variants can be loosely classified as draw poker, stud poker, or community card poker; miscellaneous poker games exist. The most commonly played games in these categories are five-card draw, seven-card stud, and Texas hold ’em, respectively.