Poker is a game of chance, but it also requires a great deal of skill. Minimizing losses with poor hands and increasing wins with good ones is the key to long-term success at the game. The rules of the game are designed to help players achieve this goal.

Before the cards are dealt, a player may be required to place an initial contribution into the pot called an ante. This is done in order to encourage the players to bet, as a large amount of money can quickly be moved around a table if no one is willing to call the blinds.

Generally, a standard 52-card pack with the addition of two jokers is used. In some games, the dealer will use two packs of contrasting colors to speed up the dealing process. While the first pack is being dealt, the second pack is shuffled and prepared for the next deal.

The game of Poker can be played for pennies or matchsticks, socially with friends, or professionally at tournaments where the winner takes home thousands of dollars. No matter how much money a game of Poker involves, however, there are certain basic rules that must be followed in order to avoid controversy and ensure that the game plays smoothly.

One player at a table is designated as the banker, who keeps track of how many chips each player has and how they were paid for (cash or credit). The banker may not engage in private transactions with any other player, but must give each player his or her turn in the betting before he or she can purchase more chips.