Poker is a card game played between a small group of players around a table. It is a fast-paced game where the players bet continuously until one player has all of the chips or everyone folds. Each player has their own stack of chips, which they use to place bets or “check” when they don’t want to bet.

Before the cards are dealt players must place a small amount of money into the pot, called forced bets or blinds, to encourage people to play. Depending on the rules of the game, these bets may come in different forms: an ante, a blind, or both.

Once all the players have received their two hole cards there is a round of betting, with the first player to act (the player nearest the dealer’s left) calling the bet or raising it. Then the dealer puts three community cards face up on the table, which everyone can use (this is known as the flop). There is another round of betting and then a showdown.

The key to winning poker is being able to read your opponents. Knowing how to spot a conservative player from an aggressive one will help you decide which hands to call and which to raise. It’s also important to be aware of your position at the table, as being in late position gives you more information about your opponents’ hands and better bluffing opportunities.