Poker is a game in which players place bets into a pot at the end of each hand. The player with the best five-card hand wins the pot. The rules vary slightly by region and variation. A game typically starts with each player putting in a small amount of money (the “ante”), which is placed into the middle of the table to start betting. A player can then call a bet, raise it or fold. A player who folds does not put any more chips into the pot and is out of the current hand.
If you’re just starting out, it’s best to play for a nominal sum of money at first, even if that’s just matchsticks or counters. This will let you play against semi-competent players without risking too much of your bankroll and it will also give you a feel for the game. If you do decide to bet real money, make sure you only gamble with an amount that you’re comfortable losing.
You can learn a lot about the other players at your table simply by watching them act and guessing what they might have in their hands. For example, if one player raises a bet after the flop comes A-2-6, you can bet with pretty good confidence that they have two pair, because most players will check after seeing that flop.
Once you’re more experienced, try to learn the odds of each hand and how the probability changes on different streets. For example, you may find that a high pair of unsuited cards isn’t as strong as it was on the flop because your opponent might have a low card that gives them an upper edge.