Poker is a game of chance and skill where the players make decisions based on probability, psychology and game theory. Although luck plays a major role in the short run, over time a player’s actions can virtually eliminate the element of chance.
The dealer deals five cards to each player face down. Players place an ante (amount varies by game) and then bet into the pot in turn in clockwise order. The highest hand wins the pot at the end of the betting round.
When it comes to betting, a good rule of thumb is to try to guess what other players have. This is often easier said than done, but more experienced players understand that it is possible to narrow down a player’s range of hands with relative ease.
For example, if everyone checks after the flop and one player bets aggressively, it is likely that they have the nuts (a pair of Aces or better). If you’re unsure what someone has, you can always say “I open” to add your own bet amount into the pot and then either call or fold.
Be wary of taking too long a break from a hand. The other players will see you as an easy target and will take advantage of you. It’s best to sit out a hand if you’re going to be away for an extended period of time or need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t make it to a hand, be courteous and say that you’re going to be sitting this one out.