Poker is a card game that involves betting between players. The objective of the game is to have a high-value hand, such as a flush or straight. Strong hands can force weaker players to fold and make the game more lucrative for those remaining.

Generally, each player is dealt two cards and then begins a round of betting. This is initiated by the first player to the left making a mandatory bet, or blind bet, of one or more chips. Players can call the bet by putting the same number of chips into the pot or raise it by putting more than the previous player’s bet. They can also choose to drop (fold) their hand, leaving the pot empty and forfeiting their cards to the dealer.

The game was traditionally played with a single pack of cards, but in many clubs and among the best players two packs of contrasting colors are used to speed up dealing. The dealer deals the cards from both packs simultaneously, then shuffles and prepares the deck for the next deal.

The divide between break-even beginner players and big-time winning professionals is much smaller than you might think. The majority of the difference is often just a few little adjustments in thinking and perspective. A key change is learning to look at the game from a cold, mathematical, and logical perspective. The other big change is observing the tells of your opponents—behavior, body language, and other subtle signals.