Poker is a card game for two or more players with betting rounds and a showdown. In its most basic form, it is a game in which the best hand wins the pot (a collection of bets made by the players during a hand). A player may also win a pot by bluffing, that is, betting that his or her hand is better than it really is.

Most forms of poker require that each player contribute a small forced bet before the hand begins, called an ante or blind. Usually the player to the left of the dealer will make the first bet, and subsequent players must call or raise that bet in turn. Players can also check, that is, stay in the hand without betting.

After the ante and blind bets are placed the dealer deals three cards face up on the table that everyone can use (this is called the flop). Players then place bets in turn, again raising or calling.

One of the most important skills to learn in poker is to read your opponents. This involves paying attention to subtle physical poker tells such as scratching the nose or playing nervously with their chips. However, most of the information you can gain about your opponents will come from their betting patterns. For example, if a player continually raises during a betting interval then you can assume that they are holding strong hands. This is called reading the player.