The game of poker is played by a group of players with the objective of winning the pot, which is the sum total of all bets made during any given hand. There are several forms of poker, but all share certain principles. Players must place mandatory bets, known as blinds, at the beginning of each hand, and the player with the best hand wins the pot.

Each player is dealt two cards face down and a third card is placed in the center of the table, which is common to all players. A round of betting now begins, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Players can choose to ‘check’ or ‘call’ the bet made by the player to their left. A player can also ‘raise’, meaning they will put in a higher bet than the previous player.

A player with a high pair is considered to be in good shape and can usually call or raise any amount that is placed before them. A straight flush is a hand with five consecutive cards of the same suit (clubs, diamonds, hearts or spades). This is the highest-ranking hand and cannot be tied or beat by any other hands.

The more you play, the better your instincts become. Learning to read the other players will help you make quick decisions. Observe other experienced players and try to mimic their behavior to develop your own style of playing.