Poker is a card game in which individuals compete to control a sum of money or chips contributed by other players (the pot). Depending on the variant, players may place an initial contribution to the pot, called an ante. This is usually a fixed amount, or a certain number of chips. Throughout the course of several betting intervals, players build their hands by discarding cards and being dealt replacements. Each player attempts to minimize their losses with poor hands while maximizing their winnings with strong ones.
The rules of poker vary from one game to another, and are governed by a set of written and unwritten laws. It is customary for groups of players to adopt their own set of house rules, although it is recommended that these be written down. It is also a common practice for the governing body of a game to publish an official code of rules, which can serve as the final arbiter for any disputes that arise.
The modern game of poker has its roots in the sixteenth century, when bluffing games were first developed. By the nineteenth century, poker had spread to many parts of the world and was played in private homes and on riverboats that plied the Mississippi. In the 2000s, Texas hold ’em became the dominant form of poker in the United States, and it was introduced to the broader public through television shows and popular literature. The game is now a major source of income for professional gamblers.