Poker is a card game where players place bets and then try to make the best five-card hand. Each player starts with two cards, known as hole cards. Then, five community cards are dealt face up in three stages: the flop, a turn, and a river. Each of these hands is evaluated by the other players and, if any, bets are placed. If no one calls a bet, the player can check (pass on betting), raise it, or fold.

A player who wishes to stay in the pot must match the previous raiser’s stake, or else fold. This matching method is called “calling.”

In some variants of the game, players can also win side pots by placing bets in different parts of the table. Depending on the rules of the game, these side pots can be equal to or less than the original pot size.

As a writer, the ability to quickly develop instincts and analyze your own and other players’ behavior is important. Practice and watch experienced players to develop this skill.

Writing about poker requires top-notch research and an understanding of the rules and nuances of the game. Authenticity is key, as the reader must believe that you are describing an actual poker game. This includes accurate details, but also the feel of a real game, including tension and rising odds over dozens of rounds. To achieve this, you may need to describe a few hands early in the story and then skim over them for the key ones.