Poker is a card game where players make bets on the strength of their hands in order to win a pot – the sum of all bets made – at the end of the hand. While much of the game involves chance, successful players base their actions on probability and psychology.

Each player receives 2 hole cards. A round of betting begins, usually with 2 mandatory bets (called blinds) placed into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. Once the betting round is over, one more card is dealt to each player. This is called the flop.

It’s important to learn how to read other players’ behavior, especially their tells. The most obvious tells are nervous habits, such as fiddling with chips or wearing a ring, but they also include the way a person plays. For example, if a player who generally calls every bet raises wildly on the river, it is likely that they are holding a strong hand.

In the long run, it’s best to focus on making good decisions. A good decision is a move with an intended purpose, such as bluffing for value or attempting to trap opponents. A bad decision is a move with no clear purpose, such as calling when you have no chance of winning. If you’re not sure which move to make, try checking if no one has raised yet. If you check, the other players must either call your bet or fold their cards.