How to Play Poker

Poker is a card game where players make bets and raise their hands in turn. A standard deck of 52 cards is used, with two back colours. Players can choose whether or not to use jokers, which serve as wild cards. The game can be played between two and seven players, although six or more is ideal.

To play poker, each player must first buy in with a certain number of chips. These are referred to as poker chips, and they are usually in the form of white, red, and blue chips. A white chip represents one unit of the ante or bet; a red chip equals five whites; and a blue chip represents ten whites.

After the mandatory pre-flop bets (two forced bets placed into a pot before any players see their hand) are made, the dealer deals three cards face up on the table which anyone can use (this is called the flop). Once this betting round is over another card is dealt face up (the river) and the final betting rounds begin.

During this time, it is important to bet aggressively. It is better to bet big than small, as you will force weaker hands to fold and you will create a large pot size which encourages competition. It is also important to study your opponents and pay attention to their behaviour. This is known as reading players, and it is an essential skill in poker. This will not only help you in deciding what type of hands to play with but it will also help you determine the odds of a given hand.