Poker is a card game in which players wager chips (representing money) on the chances of making a winning hand. The game originated in the United States, where it was first played on riverboats carrying goods up and down the Mississippi River during the Civil War and became a staple of Wild West saloons. It eventually spread throughout the world, thanks to railroad workers and soldiers returning home from the Civil War who brought the game with them.

There are many different poker variants, but all share some common features. A poker hand comprises five cards. Its value is in inverse proportion to its frequency, meaning that a high-frequency hand has a lower chance of occurring than a low-frequency one. Players may also bluff by betting that they have the best hand, forcing other players to call or fold.

Each player has 2 hole cards dealt to them, and a round of betting begins once all players have their two cards. There are also mandatory bets called blinds placed in the pot by the player to the left of the dealer before any action is taken. These are to help make sure there is a pot for everyone to compete over, and they are essential for the game’s fairness.

As you play poker, it’s important to keep a notebook of your hand history so that you can study past hands to improve in the future. Keeping track of the numbers in your notebook will help you internalize poker math, and you’ll develop an intuition for things like frequencies and EV estimation.