The Basics of Poker
Poker is a card game in which players place chips into the pot (the money wagered) for a chance to win. In most games players must ante something (amount varies by game) to be dealt cards and then they place bets into the pot in turn, either calling or raising. The highest hand wins the pot.
During betting, you can also say “raise” to add more money to the pot by raising the amount of the last person’s raise. This means you are increasing the probability that your opponent will fold and you are improving your chances of winning.
Another important skill in poker is reading your opponents. Although there are subtle physical poker tells you can pick up on (such as scratching the nose or playing nervously with your chips) most of a good player’s reads come from studying patterns in how other players play. For example, if someone always raises with weak hands and rarely folds then they are likely to be holding some pretty crappy cards.
Top players are able to fast-play their strong hands, which means they bet aggressively and put pressure on those holding weaker hands. This helps them build the pot, attracting more money and potentially scaring off other players who are waiting for a stronger hand. It’s these types of moves that you hear about when watching the World Series of Poker, and they are the hallmark of a true professional.