The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game that involves betting and the formation of hands. There are many different poker variants, each with its own rules and etiquette. Some have a dealer, while others are played without one. In either case, the dealer is responsible for distributing the chips that have been bet into both the main pot and side pots (if applicable).

The game begins with 2 hole cards being dealt to all players. Then there is a round of betting that starts with the player to the left of the dealer. Each player can choose to call, fold or raise. When a player raises, they place a bet that is higher than the previous player’s bet.

A strong poker hand includes a winning combination of high cards and low cards. But luck also plays a role in the game, and the most important skill is knowing when to play your cards and when to fold them. This means knowing what your opponents are doing, and being able to read them.

If a player takes a long time to check or call a bet, they may be signaling that they have a weak hand. In this case, it is a good idea to fold and move on. However, if a player bets aggressively early on the flop and raises, they can build the pot and chase off other players who are waiting for a draw to beat their hand. This is called fast playing.