How to Play Poker

Poker is a card game played with chips that represent money. The goal is to form the best possible hand based on the rank of each card and win the pot at the end of the betting round. Players place their chips into the pot in turn, and only those with a valid hand can call the bet. Players may also choose to raise the bet or drop out of the hand.

It is important to read other people’s actions and reactions during a hand of poker. This helps to understand how other players think, and also to determine whether they are bluffing or holding true. It is also helpful to know the tells – unconscious habits displayed during gameplay that reveal information about your hand.

A player should always play suited cards, especially pairs and three of a kind. Unsuited cards are rarely good, and should be folded unless they are a two-card straight. Consecutive low cards are better than single low cards, and should almost always be played (especially suited) since most people will stay in to see the flop with them.

After a deal is made, one player has the dealer chip shown in the image above. This player acts first in every betting stage, and the order of play is then clockwise around the table. Players should always be aware that opening the betting against another player will likely cause them to lose a hand, and that calling gives them more ways to win.