Poker is a card game that is played with a single deck of cards and a pot to compete for. A player wins the pot by having the highest ranked hand of cards when all players have folded or when they have made their last bet in a hand.

Before the start of a hand, players make forced bets called antes or blind bets. These are placed into a common pool of chips called the “pot.” After all players have two hole cards, betting begins with the player to the left of the dealer.

The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals one at a time to each player, starting with the player to their left. Each player’s hands develop differently depending on their position at the table. For example, a full house includes 3 matching cards of the same rank and 2 matching cards of another rank. A flush contains 5 consecutive cards of the same suit. A straight is 5 cards of different ranks but in sequence and from more than one suit. A pair is 2 cards of the same rank.

One of the best ways to improve your poker skills is by reading books on strategy. Invest time learning about the basic rules and hand rankings, then focus on strategies specific to your playing style. For instance, if you’re a good bluffer, read up on how to exploit your opponents by making a believable tell. Also, find a group of players winning at the same stakes and meet weekly to discuss difficult hands you found yourself in.