Poker is a card game that involves betting. A player can either call the current bet or raise it to add more money to the pot. The best hand wins the pot.

The first step to improving your poker game is studying hands you’ve played (or watched) to understand what went right and wrong. Watching other players is also an excellent way to learn more about poker strategy. Observe how experienced players react in certain situations, and try to mimic their moves to build your own instincts.

Before a hand starts, players must “ante” some amount of chips (the exact amount varies by game). After the cards are dealt, everyone begins to place bets into the middle of the table, or “pot.” If you don’t want to be in a hand, you can fold before betting. Otherwise, you can say “call” to put up the same amount as the person to your right.

If you have a good hand, say “raise” to add more money to the pot. This will force weaker hands out of the hand and increase your chances of winning.

To make good decisions, it’s important to understand how a poker hand ranks in terms of its mathematical frequency. This will help you determine the strength of your own hand, and allow you to compare it to other players’ hands. Eventually, the odds will become second-nature to you. This will improve your ability to read your opponents and make sound calls during a hand.