Poker is a card game in which players place bets (representing money) into a central pot. Unlike other casino games, where chance plays a large role in the outcome of individual hands, poker is primarily a game of skill. Players must choose whether to raise or fold their cards after each round of betting, and can also bluff in order to win.
At the start of each hand, one player, designated by the rules of the poker variant being played, must place a number of chips into the pot, called buying in. These chips are usually white or light colored, and are worth a certain amount of money depending on the variant. For example, a white chip may be worth the minimum ante, and a red chip may be worth five whites.
After the chips are placed, betting begins with the player to the left of the dealer. If the player has a good hand, they can bet at it in order to force weaker hands out and increase the value of the pot. A good bluff can even win the pot when the player has a bad hand, because other players will often behave rashly and overplay their hands in an attempt to win them.
Another key part of the game is reading other players. A lot of this is done through subtle physical poker tells, but a great deal can be learned by observing players’ betting patterns. Very conservative players are easy to read because they generally fold early in their hands, while aggressive players are risk-takers and can be bluffed into folding.