Poker is a card game for players who place bets with chips. It involves skill as well as chance. It is often a fast-paced game of raising and folding. The object is to win the pot by forming a winning hand or eliminating other players. A good player can also influence the outcome of a hand by making bluffs.

Each player starts with 2 cards face down and 1 up. There is a round of betting after each development of the hand. The first player to act raises his bet. This is called “calling”. Players may also bluff by betting that they have the best hand when in fact they do not. Other players must either call the bet or fold their hand.

It is conventional for players to keep their bets in front of them, instead of placing them directly into the pot (called “splashing” the pot). This allows players to better track the total amount of money bet during a round. This is important in order to be able to compare the odds of a winning hand with those offered by the pot.

A player’s success in poker is largely dependent on his ability to read the tells of other players. These are unconscious habits that reveal information about a player’s hand. These tells can include eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and gestures. A good poker player can spot a tell by observing if a player flinches, smiles, blinks or shows other nonverbal signs of bluffing.