Poker is a card game played by two or more players. Each player places chips (representing money, for which poker is almost always played) in a common pot at the beginning of each betting interval according to the rules of the particular game being played. The first player to place a bet is said to “open” the game, and each player must either call or fold in turn, depending on the game rules.

Generally speaking, successful poker players make decisions that are profitable in the long run. This involves a combination of math, statistics, and knowledge of the game. It also requires a strong comfort with risk-taking. This is usually built up over time by taking smaller risks in lower-stakes games where you are less likely to lose large sums of money.

Another important skill of a good poker player is the ability to read other players. This includes learning their tells, such as eye movements, idiosyncrasies, hand gestures, and betting habits. Ideally, a good poker player can hide their own tells as well.

A good poker player knows how to fast-play their strong hands. This is done in order to build the pot, and thus increase the value of their winnings. It is also a way to chase off other players who may be waiting for a better hand. It is never the right strategy to limp in a pre-flop situation, as you will be giving up the opportunity to price all of the worse hands out of the pot.