In poker, each player is dealt a hand of cards. Players then place bets of various amounts in a pot (representing money) according to the rules of their specific game. The object is to win the pot by having a higher-ranking poker hand than the other players. A player may also bluff in order to try to fool other players into believing they have a better hand than they actually do.

While a large portion of winning poker is based on chance, the majority of successful players are disciplined, make few mistakes, and use a combination of probability theory, psychology, and game theory. The divide between break-even beginner players and big-time winners is much smaller than many people believe, and it usually comes down to making a few simple adjustments in the way they think about the game.

The first step in improving your poker skills is learning to read other players. This involves identifying players’ tells, including their eye movements, idiosyncrasies, and betting behavior. You should also learn to distinguish conservative players from aggressive ones. Conservative players tend to fold early and can be bluffed easily. Aggressive players, on the other hand, are risk-takers that may bet high in a hand before they have seen how the other players react.

Another crucial skill is understanding ranges. While newer players will often attempt to put their opponent on a particular hand, more experienced players will instead work out the full range of hands that the other player could have and determine how likely it is that their own hand beats it.