How to Play Poker

Poker is a card game in which players wager money on the outcome of a hand. It has many variants, but most involve betting and a showdown. The aim is to win a pot, which is the total amount of all bets made on the hand. Players may place bets based on expected value and other factors, including the likelihood of their opponents holding better hands, the strength of their own, and bluffing. They also have the option to call a bet and concede that they have a weak or worse hand.

The first step is to know your opponents and their tendencies, how to read the board, and when to bluff. Then you have to learn how to play. You can start by playing with friends who already know the game or by joining a poker club. You can also find online lessons and books to help you get started.

After the initial deal each player has five cards. The first player to act places a bet. If he or she raises, the player to his or her left must call. Players may then fold, call or raise again. If they choose to call, they must place chips or cash into the pot equal to the previous bettor’s bet or raise. If they raise, they must continue raising at least an established minimum until the last player to act checks. The player with the highest hand wins the pot.