The game of poker is a card game in which players wager money or chips on the outcome of a hand. It is a type of gambling and is played in casinos, card rooms, and private homes. The game was invented in the 16th century and is now played all over the world. There are many different variants of the game, but they all share certain features.

The basic rules of poker are simple: each player is dealt five cards and the highest ranked hand wins the pot. Players can call, raise, or fold their hands depending on the strength of their starting cards, their position at the table, and the actions of other players.

Each betting interval, or round, begins when a player to the left of the dealer makes a bet by putting one or more chips into the pot. The player to the left can “call” that bet by putting the same amount of chips into the pot, or they may raise it, which means raising the total amount of chips in the pot to a higher level. They can also drop out of the hand, which is to say that they put in no chips at all and discard their cards.

When you play poker, the first step is to learn how to read other players. This is important because it will allow you to make educated guesses about what your opponents are holding. This will help you make more accurate calls and increase your chances of winning.

To begin reading other players, start by paying attention to their body language. Look for any tells they might have, such as scratching their nose or playing nervously with their chips. You can also learn a lot by watching their betting patterns. If a player is betting all the time, it’s likely that they have a weak hand. On the other hand, if they’re folding all the time, they’re probably playing strong cards.

Once you’ve learned to read other players, it’s time to practice. Start by playing in small games at the lowest stakes. This will help you preserve your bankroll while still being able to practice your skills. Also, it’s helpful to find a community of other poker players who can help you improve. You can find these people through online poker forums or by finding a local group to play with.

Another good way to learn is by studying poker theory books. These books will teach you how to think about poker strategy from a 10,000-foot view. They’ll explain concepts like balance, frequencies, and ranges, which will give you a much better understanding of how to play the game.