Poker is a card game where players try to form the best possible hand based on the cards they have. The player with the highest-ranking hand wins the pot, which is the sum of all bets placed by all players. Players may also bluff, betting that they have a strong hand when they actually don’t, in order to make other players believe they are holding the strongest possible hand.

A successful poker game requires several skills, including sharp focus, discipline, and comfort with risk-taking. Many people who are successful in poker started out by taking small risks in low-stakes games for the learning experience, building up their comfort level over time.

One of the most important aspects of successful poker is understanding your opponents’ bets, or ‘calling.’ When a player puts up a bet, you can either call it by placing the same amount of chips into the pot as the previous player or raise it, putting in more than the previous player. You can also “drop” by discarding your cards and leaving the game without putting any more money in, although you will lose any chips that you have already put into the pot.

It’s also important to learn how to read other players’ tells, or body language and betting habits, so you can figure out what they are trying to tell you. For example, if you see a player who is usually cautious but makes a big raise, they may be holding a high-quality hand.