The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game with a lot of variations, but all involve cards and chips. The goal of the game is to form a hand that ranks higher than your opponents’, resulting in you winning the pot. This pot is the total of all bets placed on a given hand. There are a number of ways to win the pot, including having the highest-ranking hand at the end of the betting round or forcing other players with weak hands to fold.

The game is played by two or more people around a table. Each player has a stack of chips, which they can use to place bets. When it is your turn to act, you say “call” if you want to raise the amount of money you have already placed in the pot. You can also check (pass on a bet), but this will not increase your stake in the pot.

In addition to analyzing your own hand, you should spend some time learning how to read the body language of your opponents. There are many books on this topic and everyone from psychologists to law enforcement officials have spoken of the importance of reading non-verbal tells.

For example, let’s say you deal yourself a pair of kings off the deal. This isn’t a great hand, but it’s not bad either. Then, when the betting starts, Alex checks (calls when he doesn’t think he owes anything to the pot). Charley calls, and then Dennis raises a dime.