The Basics of Poker

Poker is a game that requires bluffing and misdirection. It is also a test of human nature and a window into it. The element of luck, which can bolster or tank even a good player, makes it both challenging and rewarding to play.

Players take turns betting on the hand. They begin by raising the ante (or blind bet, depending on the variant). If no one raises, they can check. They may also say “open” to add money to the pot before it is their turn to act.

When it is your turn to act, say “call” to call the last bet or raise. This forces weaker hands to fold and increases the value of your pot. It is important to learn your opponent’s tells and adjust your strategy accordingly. Tells include anything from fiddling with their chips to a nervous ring or face, or announcing that they have a strong hand.

In early position, you should narrow your range of starting hands to only the strongest ones. This is because you will be re-raising and 3-betting most of the time, giving your opponents a chance to fold their weaker hands. In late position, you can usually open a wider range of hands. However, you should still avoid playing weak pairs in this position. They lose to high cards 82% of the time.