Poker is a card game in which players wager money on the outcome of a hand. It has many variants. The object is to win the pot, or the total amount of bets placed during a single betting round. A player may also bluff, betting that they have the best hand when they do not.

Before the cards are dealt, each player must put in an initial contribution to the pot, called the ante. When it is your turn to place a bet, you can say “call” to put in the same amount as the person to your left; “raise” to increase the amount you are betting; or “fold” (leave the hand), forfeiting any chips you have put into the pot.

Once the flop is revealed, each player can bet again. You should raise if you have a good hand or if your opponent’s bet makes you uncomfortable. This will force people to fold their weaker hands and will increase the value of your strong hand.

If you do not have a strong hand, try to check and call as much as possible to reduce your losses. It is important to know how to play the game well, and this includes knowing how to read your opponents. Look for tells such as shallow breathing, sighing, flaring nostrils, sweating, swallowing excessively and blinking. You should also watch for nervous body language, which can include staring down at their chips or placing them in front of their face.