The Basics of Poker


Poker is a card game in which players place chips (representing money) into the pot to make a wager. The highest hand wins the pot. While a specific hand may involve significant chance, the long-run expectations of players are determined by actions chosen on the basis of probability, psychology, and game theory.

Generally, players must ante a small amount (amount varies by game) to get dealt cards and begin the betting round. After the deal, each player places chips into the pot in turn, acting clockwise. The first player to act has the option to raise or call a bet and then choose whether to check behind or continue betting.

The basic winning strategy is to bet and raise early and often with strong value hands, as opposed to playing a lot of speculative hands that require more bluffing. Beginners should also learn to read other players and watch for tells, such as fiddling with their chips, a ring, or a high pulse in the neck or temple. These tells can be used to deduce if an opponent is bluffing.

Playing in position, meaning you act after your opponents have acted, is important because it gives you information on their decisions. This allows you to bluff with more confidence. In addition, you can exercise pot control by raising when you have a strong hand to inflate the size of the pot and make it more difficult for your opponent to play back at you.