Official poker, as played in a casino or card game club, typically takes place in two formats: tournaments and cash games (also known as ring games). These types of games differ slightly from one another, but the overall goal of the game remains the same – win money by having the best hand. This is accomplished by making bets during the betting rounds. The winning hand is revealed during a showdown at the end of each deal.
Each player in a poker game contributes an initial amount of money, called an ante, to the pot before cards are dealt. This money helps cover the cost of new decks of cards and other expenses for the table. If a player chooses not to contribute, they must “fold” their cards. The players to the left of the dealer are required to pay forced bets, or blinds, before the cards are dealt. These are the small blind and big blind, respectively.
During the course of a game, players may establish a special fund, called a kitty, to pay for additional expenses such as new decks of cards or food and drinks. Any chips left in the kitty when the game ends are divided equally amongst all players still at the table. The kitty is often established by unanimous or majority agreement between the players. To maintain a level head during the game, players should stay well-hydrated and avoid alcohol. Players should also keep their emotions in check and avoid over-reacting, even if they’re having an incredible run of luck.