Poker is a card game of chance, but it also involves a good amount of skill and psychology. While there is some luck involved in each hand, it is possible to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize wins with strong ones by using proper betting strategy.

Poker games are usually played by a group of players in a circle around the table. Before the cards are dealt, each player must put a contribution into the pot called an ante. This is to ensure that all players are committed to the game.

After the ante, each player has an opportunity to raise or call the bet placed by the person to their left. To raise, you must say “raise” or “I raise.” This will add an additional amount of money to the pot and the players clockwise from you will be able to choose to call or fold.

In addition to raising, you can also exercise pot control by checking. When an opponent checks, they are demonstrating weakness in the hand and making it more likely that you are bluffing. This is a great time to take advantage of an opponent’s weakness and increase the size of your winnings.

It is important not to get too attached to your hand. Even a good pocket king or queen can be beaten by an ace on the flop. The more you can read the board, the more likely you will be to make the right decisions at the right time.