Poker is a card game in which players wager chips (representing money) on the outcome of a hand. Players place these chips into a pot before the cards are dealt, and then take turns betting in intervals determined by the specific game rules. The first player to act may make the first bet, and each subsequent player must choose to either call the bet or fold.

The game is played with a set of colored chips that represent different values, which the dealer assigns prior to the start of play. The player who receives the last chip in the deck must pay the entire pot if he or she does not have a winning hand.

One of the key things to learn as a beginner is how to read other players. This means watching for tells, which are not just nervous habits like fiddling with a coin or a ring, but also the way players play. If an opponent always plays a certain way, his or her tells can give away that they have a good hand.

A balanced style of play will keep opponents guessing about your strength and weakness. If you’re too predictable, they’ll know when you have a good hand and when you’re bluffing. A good balance will also help you to win more often than a player who makes no adjustments and plays every hand.