Poker is a card game in which players bet against each other and the highest hand wins. It is a form of gambling and a very popular social activity around the world.

There are many different variants of the game but they all share the same basic rules. One or more cards are dealt to each player and then the betting rounds begin. Each round involves raising and re-raising the amount of money that is being placed in the pot. The higher the hand, the more money that is won.

The game begins with one or more forced bets called the ante and/or blind bet. These bets are usually made by players to the left of the dealer. The dealer then shuffles the deck and deals each player a set number of cards, usually starting with the player to their left. The cards may be face up or down depending on the game.

Once the first betting round is complete the dealer puts three more cards face up on the table which are community cards that anyone can use. This is known as the flop. After the flop betting resumes with each player having the option to call, raise or fold.

When it is your turn to act, you say “call” if you wish to make the same bet as the person before you or “raise” if you think your hand is better than theirs. The bet is then placed into the pot, either in chips or cash. If you do not have a good hand you should fold before the flop.

In the event that no player has a high enough hand to win the main pot a side pot is created from any additional bets by the remaining players. The size of the side pot is proportional to the number of players that remain in the hand.

As you play more games you will learn to read other players and spot their tendencies. You can do this by looking for specific patterns in how they bet. For example, if you notice a player always folds early in the hand, you can assume they are playing a weak hand and are easy to bluff against.

Another important part of reading your opponents is understanding ranges. While new players will try to put an opponent on a particular hand, more experienced players will work out the full selection of hands that their opponent could have and then calculate the odds of having a better hand than theirs. This method is much more accurate and will help you to win more often.