Official poker is a card game played by individuals for an amount of money or chips contributed by each player (called the pot). Players compete to control the pot based on their own cards and their prediction of what other players may have in their hands. The rules of each game vary, but some general principles apply.

One of the most important is to protect your hand. You should not show your cards to other players unless you are the last to act. Doing so can give away information about the strength of your hand, or even reveal bluffs you might be making. It is also a good idea to cover your cards with something, such as a handkerchief or chips.

When it is your turn to act, you must raise at least twice the size of the previous player’s bet. Depending on the rules of the game, you can raise as much as your entire stack.

In Texas hold’em, the dealer deals two cards to each player and then five community cards are dealt face up in three stages: the flop, the turn, and the river. Each player attempts to make the best possible poker hand using these seven cards—including their two hole cards—together with the five community cards.

It is important to play only with money that you are willing to lose. In addition, you should monitor your wins and losses to see how much you are winning or losing. This way, you can adjust your strategy as needed.