Poker is a card game where players place bets in order to form a final hand. The game requires strategic decision-making based on probability, psychology, and game theory. While the outcome of any particular hand largely involves chance, players are able to increase their chances of winning by taking advantage of betting patterns and the pot odds of the table.

The game begins when one player makes a forced bet, typically an ante or blind bet. The dealer then shuffles the cards and offers them to the player on their right for a cut (if they do not want to participate in the deal). Cards are then dealt to the players, either face up or face down depending on the game variant being played. Players are then free to call, raise, or fold.

Reading your opponents is an important part of becoming a better poker player. Watching for subtle physical tells such as eye movements, idiosyncrasies, or betting behavior is key to understanding what your opponents are holding. For example, if a player is scratching their nose or playing nervously with their chips it is likely that they are holding a weak hand.

Developing a strong range of hands to play is another essential aspect of poker strategy. Pocket pairs, suited connectors, and broadway hands should be the foundation of your starting hand range. This will allow you to bluff more often and win larger pots when you have a strong hand.