Poker is a card game that relies on skill. It involves observing other players’ reactions, learning their tells, and changing your strategy accordingly. It also requires knowledge of how to play a hand well, as it can make or break your chances of winning.

A player begins each betting phase by placing a bet, called an ante, into the pot. The player to his or her immediate left then places a bet equal to or greater than the amount placed by the previous player. The next player to act may raise the bet, or call it, depending on the variant of poker being played.

Once the bets have been made, each player receives two cards, which are hidden from the other players (known as their hole or pocket). Then, three community cards are dealt in the center of the table (called the flop), and another round of betting begins. The player with the highest-ranking 5-card hand wins the pot.

After the flop, each player must decide whether to remain in the hand or fold. Regardless of how many cards are in your hand, you can win the pot with either a high or low hand. A high hand is made up of three cards of the same rank, and a low one is made up of two cards of the same rank, plus one unmatched card. A pair is a good starting hand, but you can improve your hand by adding additional cards.