Poker is a card game played between two or more players. It may be a standalone game, or it can be an element of other games such as bridge or rummy. There are many different forms of poker, but most share the same basic rules. The objective is to win the pot, which is the total of all bets made on a particular deal. This can be done by having the highest-ranking hand, or by making a bet that no one else calls.

The main skill in poker is being able to read your opponents and predict what they’re going to do. You can learn a lot by studying the game, and by watching experienced players to see how they react in certain situations. Once you’ve got a grasp of the basics, it’s time to start playing for real money!

Before the cards are dealt, each player puts an initial amount of chips into the pot called an ante. Then the dealer deals three cards face up on the table that everyone can use. This is called the flop. Players then have a chance to check, raise or fold.

If you have a strong hand, you should bet on the flop to force weaker hands out of the pot. It’s important to remember that you’re not going to win the pot just by throwing more and more money at it. You need to realize that the value of your hand is diminishing every time you play it, and make your decisions accordingly.