Official poker is a card game that includes a variety of variants. The game is usually played by two or more players and involves betting on a range of possible combinations of cards. The rules of each variant differ slightly, but there are a number of standard rules that are common to most.

The cards are shuffled, cut by the player to the right of the dealer, and then dealt to each player. One or more forced bets (ante and/or blind) are placed before the deal, and then a series of betting rounds begin. The player who holds the best hand wins the stakes.

While there are many theories about the genesis of poker, several games seem most relevant: the five-card German game Pochen or Pochspiel (also known as Bocken, Glic, and Boucken), the three-card British game Brag (17th to present), and the early French game Post & Pair or Belle Flux et Trente-un (18th – 19th centuries).

When heads-up play is capped, raises are unlimited, but a player must either check or call before raising. When a player declares that they will be checking or calling, they are held to that action and may not raise again until their turn comes around.

Verbally stating that you will be raising is considered binding; if you say that you’re going to raise, you must actually raise. A player who does not act within his or her allowed turn is penalized.