Poker is a card game in which players compete to make the best hand. The object is to win the pot, which consists of all bets made in a single deal. Each player must contribute an amount to the pot (called a blind) before they are dealt cards. Unlike other card games, the initial forced bets in poker are not based on chance; instead, they are chosen by each player based on the principles of probability and psychology. The amount of money in the pot is determined by how many players call a given bet and what their hand strength is.
The first player to the left of the dealer button has the option to call, raise or fold. Saying “call” means to match the previous bet. It also implies that you want to go on to the next round.
After the flop, everyone gets another opportunity to check, bet or raise. When a player wants to raise the stakes even more, they can say “raise.” This is done by adding the same amount of money as the previous bet and asking the other players to either call or fold their hands.
The game of poker requires players to pay close attention to their opponents’ actions. This is called reading the players. This does not necessarily mean making movie-like reads based on subtle physical tells, but more importantly it involves understanding what the players are thinking and why. This is a valuable skill in poker and other aspects of life.