# A Beginner’s Guide to Poker

Poker is a game where you compete against other players for a pot of money by making the best hand. The game starts with a round of betting where players place an ante, or amount to bet into the pot, before being dealt cards. Then, each player can choose to call, raise or fold their cards. The player with the highest hand wins the pot.

As a beginner, you’ll want to start by learning the basics of the game. This includes understanding the types, variants and limits of poker games. You’ll also want to learn the fundamental mathematical concepts that underlie the game. This is essential because poker math helps you understand your odds and the probability of getting a specific hand.

A good starting point is to review the basic hand rankings. This will help you understand what type of hand you need to make in order to win the pot. For example, a straight contains five consecutive cards of the same rank and a flush consists of three matching cards of one rank and two unmatched cards. A full house has 3 matching cards of the same rank and 2 matching cards of another rank. A pair is two cards of the same rank, while three of a kind is made up of three distinct cards and a high card breaks ties.

Once you’ve mastered the basic hand rankings, you’ll need to focus on the strategy of the game. Depending on the situation, you may be able to play your hands differently than the other players at the table. For instance, your kings might be a great hand in certain situations, but they’re terrible when the flop comes up 10-8-6.

In poker, you’ll want to be sure to pay attention to your opponents and how they play their cards. This is especially important during the “flop” part of the game, when the community cards are revealed and your luck could change dramatically. For example, if your opponent has K-K, your kings might lose 82% of the time!

During the betting phase, you can say “raise” to add more money to the pot or “call” to match the bet made by the player before you. You can also fold if you don’t want to place a bet or don’t think your hand is good enough.

It’s also a good idea to learn about ranges, which are calculations that allow you to work out what cards your opponent is likely to have. This will help you know if you should bet or fold when you have a weak hand. For instance, weak unsuited aces should be folded preflop because they often won’t hit the flop and will lose to a better hand. You should also remember to always check your position at the table before betting. This will help you minimize risk and stay in the game longer. A successful poker game requires several skills, including discipline and perseverance. You’ll also need to commit to playing in profitable games and avoiding fun ones, which won’t be as lucrative for your bankroll.