Poker is a card game in which players form the highest-ranking hand possible from the 7 cards they receive, with the goal of winning the pot at the end of each betting round. This pot is the sum of all bets placed by players, and a player can win it by having a high-ranking hand or by making bluffs to make other players call their bets.
While it is true that a large part of the game involves chance, good poker players use probability and psychology to make calculated decisions about when to play and when to fold. They also learn to read other players and study their betting behavior. This allows them to make smart decisions when deciding whether or not to call or raise a bet and avoid costly mistakes.
The first step in improving your poker game is to practice and watch others play. This will help you develop quick instincts about the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents. It is important to watch without interfering with other players, but you can also ask them questions about how they played a hand or what strategy they might use in the future.
Another key aspect of the game is to be aggressive, even if you do not have a strong hand. Doing so will often cause other players to fold, and it can help you get paid when your opponent has a poor hand. In addition, it will encourage other players to call your bets and give you additional information about the strength of their hands.