A Beginner’s Guide to Poker

Poker is a card game in which players place bets against each other based on the value of their hand. Chips, normally made of plastic or ceramic, are used to represent the bets. Real money may also be used to place bets, but chips are more common because they are easier to count and manage.

Before the cards are dealt each player must put an initial contribution into the pot, called an ante. This helps the dealer cover the cost of dealing the cards.

Once the cards are dealt the flop is revealed. This gives everyone a chance to check, raise or fold their hand. The highest ranked hand wins the pot.

After the flop there is another round of betting. If you have a strong hand you should try to get your money in early.

If you have a weak hand you should wait to see how the board develops. You might be able to find a better hand to call with on the turn or river.

Watch the other players at the table for tells that reveal their relative hand strength. Classic tells include shallow breathing, sighing, nostril flaring, blinking excessively, watery eyes and an increasing pulse seen around the neck or temple. Players who stare down at their hands are usually bluffing. Bluffing is a major part of the game but beginners should avoid it unless they feel confident enough to make good reads. This is because bluffing requires quick instincts and beginners often lack these skills.