The Basics of Poker

Poker is a card game played between two or more players. It involves betting, and the skillful use of psychology to gain an advantage over opponents. The game has many variants, but they all share certain characteristics. The game of poker began in the 17th century and became popular during the American Civil War. It spread to the rest of the world shortly afterward.

In poker, cards are shuffled and cut by the player to the right of the dealer. There are usually one or more betting intervals between deals, depending on the poker variant being played. The first player to the left of the dealer must place an amount of chips (representing money, for which poker is almost invariably played) into the pot. This is known as the ante or blinds. Any player may raise the ante or blinds in his turn, but must either match the stake of the last raiser or fold. This is called being active and is the only way to compete for the pot.

The best poker players are able to read other players’ tells, which are unconscious habits that reveal information about the player’s hand. These include body language, eye contact and facial expressions. In addition, successful players have a great deal of patience and can make good decisions under pressure. They also know how to choose the proper limits and game variations for their bankrolls. They are also able to calculate odds and know when to call a bet.