Official poker is a card game that incorporates gambling, strategy, and skill. Games vary in the number of cards dealt, whether any are face up or hidden, and how many cards remain in play after each betting round. However, all of them involve betting as an intrinsic part of the game.

A standard deck of 52 cards, plus one or two jokers, is used in poker. Players purchase chips that represent a fixed amount of money to participate in the game. Traditionally, all entrants in a tournament buy-in for the same amount and start with the same number of chips. Then, as play progresses, each player can raise their bet amount by “cutting” (taking) low-denomination chips from the kitty. The kitty funds the purchase of additional decks of cards, food and drinks for the table, and any other costs that may be incurred during the tournament.

The game of poker was probably developed in New Orleans in the early 1820s. Its gaming milieu was that of French-speaking maritime gambling saloons in the Mississippi steamers. The name poker is believed to be derived from a 15th-century game recorded as Pochen or Pochspiel.

The main element that distinguishes poker from other card games is its bluffing aspect. As in all card games, the best hand does not always win. A player who bluffs successfully can sometimes win the pot without ever showing their cards. To protect their cards, players often place their hands or a chip on top of them to prevent anyone from seeing them.