The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game that is based on skill and psychology rather than pure chance. There is an element of luck involved in a hand but the difference between a good poker player and a bad one is largely based on the ability to read your opponents and make the best bets with your strongest hands.

The game begins with a small amount of money (the ante) being put into the pot by each player. Then each player gets two cards face down. Once everyone has their two cards they can decide to call, raise or fold. The highest ranked hand wins the pot. There are many different types of poker hands but the most common are:

During the first betting round (the preflop phase) you should only play strong pre-flop hands and limit how much you call with weaker ones. This way you will be putting maximum pressure on your opponents and winning the most money.

On the flop, the dealer puts down three community cards that all players can use to create their own hands. Then the second betting round takes place where players can bet more or fold. The high pair wins ties. Then the high card breaks ties and lastly the straight or flush wins if any of them are present.

After the flop there is a third betting round which reveals the fourth community card. Then the final betting round takes place called the river where the dealer puts down the fifth and last community card. Once again all players have the chance to bet or check.

A lot of new players will play too passively and underplay their strong hands. They will often call when they should be raising and they will fold when they should be betting. This will lead to them not making as much money as they could be.

If you are in EP you should be playing very tight and opening with only the strongest hands. MP is a better position and you can start to open with slightly more hands but you should still be very tight.

If you have a decent starting hand you should always bet. This will force weaker players to fold and will help you build a big pot. If you have a good hand you should also be able to bluff, which can be very profitable if done correctly.