The game of poker is played in hundreds of variations, but the following overview of game play applies to most of them.
Depending on the game rules, one or more players may be required to place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt. These are called forced bets and come in two forms: antes and blinds.
The dealer shuffles the deck, then the deck is cut, and the appropriate number of cards are dealt face-down to the players. In a land-based casino a "house" dealer handles the cards for each hand, but a button is rotated among the players to determine the order of dealing and betting in certain games.
After the initial deal, the first of what may be several betting rounds begins. Between rounds, the players' hands develop in some way, often by being dealt additional cards or replacing cards previously dealt. During a round of betting, there will always be a current bet amount, which is the total amount of money bet in this round by the player who bet last in this round. To keep better track of this, it is conventional for players to not place their bets directly into the pot (called splashing the pot), but rather place them in front of themselves toward the pot, until the betting round is over. When the round is over, the bets are then gathered into the pot.
After the first betting round is completed (every participating player having called an equal amount), there may be more rounds in which more cards are dealt in various ways, followed by further rounds of betting (into the same central pot). At any time during the first or subsequent betting rounds, if one player makes a bet and all other players fold, the deal ends immediately, the single remaining player is awarded the pot, no cards are shown, no more rounds are dealt, and the next deal begins.
At the end of the last betting round, if more than one player remains, there is a showdown in which the players reveal their previously hidden cards and evaluate their hands. The player with the best hand wins the pot.
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