Poker is a game of chance, but over time, it also builds confidence and strategic thinking. It teaches players to observe the behavior of others and make decisions based on their judgment. And although luck does play a role in winning, skill will always outweigh it over the long run.

The game starts with each player putting in the ante, a small amount of money that must be put into the pot before you can begin betting. After the antes are placed, the first player to the left can choose to call the bet, raise it or drop (dropping means you don’t put any more chips into the pot and forfeit your hand).

When it’s your turn to bet, say “raise” to add more chips to the pot. You can also say “call” to match the bet of a previous player or “fold” when you don’t want to continue playing.

After the cards are dealt, each player must either hit (hitting is when you want to draw another card) or stay (staying means you like your cards). You can also bluff by saying “hit” when you don’t have good cards, but it’s important to learn how to bluff correctly. Bluffing can be confusing to opponents, and they may think you have a good hand when you don’t. This can lead to a big loss. To avoid this, you should start at the lowest limits and play versus the weakest players.