Poker is a card game in which players try to form the highest-ranking hand based on the cards they hold, in order to win the pot. The pot is the sum of all bets placed during the hand.

The first step to becoming a successful poker player is learning the basics. This includes understanding the different types, variants and limits of the game. It also means finding a suitable game that fits your bankroll and skill level.

It is important to be able to read other players and watch for “tells.” Tells aren’t just nervous habits like fiddling with chips or a ring – they can be a lot more subtle, such as the way a player plays their hands. Beginners should learn to spot these signals so they can read their opponents better.

If you have a strong hand, raise to put your opponent on notice that you are serious about the hand. This will encourage them to fold and give you a better chance of winning the hand.

When you have a weak hand, consider folding rather than raising. This will prevent you from wasting money by betting at a hand that won’t win. Over time you will develop a natural intuition for things like frequencies and EV estimation. This will allow you to be much more aggressive in your play and force weaker players to fold. It is these little adjustments that often separate break-even beginner players from big-time winners.