Poker is a card game of chance and skill, with hundreds of variations. It became popular in the early 21st century when it was largely made into a spectator sport through online gambling and broadcasts of major tournaments such as the World Series of Poker.

Players make forced bets to participate in a hand, which are placed into the pot before cards are dealt. After the ante and blind bets are placed, the dealer shuffles the cards and then deals one card to each player in turn, beginning with the seat to their left. Players may then call, raise, or fold.

When playing poker, it’s important to learn how to read other players. This isn’t always easy, but the basics are simple. Most poker “tells” aren’t subtle physical movements or body language, but instead come from patterns that players exhibit. For example, if a player calls all the time but then suddenly makes a big raise this could indicate that they are holding a strong hand.

Another important aspect of poker is learning when to fold and not waste money by calling for cards you don’t have. This can be tough because it stings to miss out on that perfect 10 you need for your straight or the two diamonds for your flush, but wasting money is expensive and doesn’t help your long-term win rate. Practice and watch other players play to develop quick instincts that will help you make these decisions.