Poker is a game of chance but the outcome of any hand can be influenced by player action. This is because players choose to invest their chips in a pot when they believe it offers positive expected value. This is based on a combination of psychology and game theory.
The first thing to do when learning to play poker is learn the rules of the game. This can be done by reading an online guide or by contacting a local casino where they can teach you the rules. Alternatively, you can sign up for a free poker account at a site or download a poker app and practice with play money.
Once you’ve learned the basics you should start by playing against a few friends. This will allow you to practice your skills in a game that moves fast and is fun.
After the ante or blind bets are made (a player puts money into the pot before they get their cards) the dealer will shuffle and deal the cards. Players will have two cards they keep hidden from the other players and then the dealer will put three more cards on the table that everyone can use. This is called the flop and this is when the luck can turn around for some players.
Then the dealer will put a fifth card on the board that everyone can use which is known as the river. This is when players can choose to check, raise or fold again depending on the strength of their hand. It’s important to be able to read other players and watch for tells. These aren’t just nervous habits like fiddling with their chips or wearing a ring, but also the way they act in a hand.