Poker is a card game where players place bets with chips. A player has to have the highest ranked hand to win a pot (all of the bets made during that hand). Players can raise, call, or fold. The winner of the hand is the person who has the highest ranked hand when the cards are revealed at the end.

In the early stages, it’s worth focusing on watching other players to build your instincts. Look for tells, which are unconscious habits that reveal information about a player’s hand, as well as how they interact with each other. For example, pay attention to who flinches and who smiles during a hand. Observe how they react to different scenarios too, such as when their opponents make a strong bet and when they call it.

Once you have a feel for the game, you can start to take some risks yourself. Some of these will fail, but if you keep taking risks and learning from your mistakes, you can improve quickly.

When you do take a risk, try to play with balance. If you’re holding a strong hand, then bet early to push people out of the pot and increase the value of your hand. On the other hand, if you think your opponent’s odds of winning are decreasing, then don’t keep betting. This is one of the hallmarks of a great player in the making, and will save you countless buy-ins in the long run.