The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game played with chips (representing money) in which players wager on the outcome of the hand. The game has a number of rules governing the behavior of the players and the dealer. These are generally based on common sense and good social etiquette. Players should respect their fellow players and dealers, avoid arguing at the table, and be gracious when winning or losing. Players should also tip the serving staff if possible.

The goal of the game is to make the best five-card hand. However, there are many ways to achieve this. The first step is to observe how other players play their cards. This will help you develop your own instincts and improve your play.

Once the flop is revealed, the player must decide whether to fold or call. If he folds, he forfeits any bets he made so far. If he calls, he must place in the pot enough chips to match or exceed the total amount of the bet made by the player before him.

The decision to raise or call is influenced by the relative strength of an opponent’s cards and the odds available for making a strong hand on later streets. It is also important to consider your opponent’s past actions, because they may give clues about how likely they are to fold when you bet. This is known as reading an opponent. This is an important skill because it allows you to make more accurate value bets.