The game of poker is played with two or more players. The aim is to form the highest possible five-card hand based on the card rankings, in order to win the pot at the end of each betting round. The pot consists of the total amount of bets placed by players. It can be won by having the highest-ranking poker hand or by making a bet that no other player calls (thereby causing them to fold).

A good poker player must be able to read the other players. This means knowing what type of hand they have, how likely they are to call your bets and how often they might bluff. The best players also have patience and the ability to calculate the odds of their opponents’ hands. They can also adapt their strategy as the situation changes.

Depending on the game, the players may have to place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt. This is called a forced bet and can come in the form of antes, blinds or bring-ins. Once the betting phase is over, players reveal their hands. The player with the best poker hand wins the pot.

When you first join a table, it’s important to assert your dominance right from the start. If you have a great starting hand like a pair of Aces or Kings, raise when others check. You’ll be amazed at how many players will check a premium opening hand and will miss out on the chance to win big.