Poker is a game that involves cards and betting. The object of the game is to win the “pot,” which is the total amount of money bet in a hand. This can be done by making a high-ranking poker hand or by raising enough that no one else calls your bets. There are many different forms of poker, but the rules described below apply to most games.

To start a hand each player must place an ante (the amount of money that he or she is willing to risk). Then the dealer deals each person two cards face down. When betting comes around to you, you can call, raise, or fold. If you call, you must put in the minimum bet to remain in the pot. If you raise, the other players will either call or fold.

You must also pay attention to your opponents and try to figure out what kind of hands they have by reading their tells. This can be tricky, but there are some tells that are universally recognized. For example, if a player tries to hide a smile by putting their hand over it, or if they play nervously with their chips, they are probably bluffing.

As a beginner it’s important to focus on relative hand strength rather than trying to learn complicated bluffing systems. You’ll be a lot more successful if you just play a lot and watch experienced players to build your instincts.