The game of poker is a challenging and fun way to test your skills. It is also a fascinating look at human behavior, as the element of luck can bolster or tank even a good player’s chances. There are a few key rules that you should always keep in mind. The first is that you should only play with chips that you can afford to lose. This will help you to make tough, but rational decisions throughout your session.

At the beginning of a hand, each player buys in by placing their chips into the pot. Each chip has a value, usually in the form of white, red or blue chips. The white chips are worth a certain amount, such as one unit of the minimum ante or bet; red chips are worth five whites; and blue chips are usually worth 10 whites or more. The dealer then deals each player one card, and the players who haven’t folded advance to the next betting round (the “flop”).

When you are last to act, it is important to bet your strong hands. This will put pressure on your opponents to call, which will reduce their chances of making a strong winning hand. It is also important to try and push players with weaker hands out of the pot early, so that you don’t have to compete against them later in the hand. This will allow you to win more of the pot.