Official poker is a game of cards played for money. It can be played casually for pennies or matchsticks or professionally for thousands of dollars in famous casinos and poker rooms. Though luck plays a large role, the game requires a great deal of skill.

Poker has been around for centuries. Its earliest known ancestor is a German card game called Pochen, which was brought to New Orleans and played on riverboats that plied the Mississippi. It later developed into a French version called Poque, which was popular in the late 1600s. The game was further refined in the 1800s and became today’s version of poker.

One player acts as the dealer and each player is dealt two cards face down. Players may place forced bets into the pot before the cards are dealt (if no ante is in play). The dealer must place a bet equal to or greater than the highest bet made, and players must raise or re-raise according to established rules.

The game is regulated in many countries, and there are international tournaments and championships. There are also rules governing how players must act toward other players and how the game should be played. In addition, some games have house rules that players may add to the general rules of the game to suit their personal preferences.

The popularity of online poker has surged since a Tennessee accountant named Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003, catapulting it into the national spotlight. In recent years, more states have jumped through regulatory hoops to legalize online poker, and millions of people have signed up to participate in the game.