Poker is a card game in which players place bets in a common pot, with the goal of winning a high-quality hand. The game requires skill, concentration, and luck. Various strategies exist for winning at poker, and many professional players devote much of their time to studying the game and improving their skills.

To become a skilled poker player, you must learn to read your opponents. This includes recognizing their physical tells, which can be revealed by eye contact, body language, and gestures. These tells can also be inferred from a player’s betting patterns. In addition, you must learn the basic rules of the game and its variations.

You must also develop quick instincts. This can be achieved by practicing and observing experienced players, imagining how you would react in their position, and analyzing the outcome of their actions. It’s also helpful to review hands that went well and those that didn’t to see how you could improve your play.

After the dealer shuffles, the player to his or her left makes an opening bet. Each player then places chips (representing money, for which poker is played) into the pot in turn, if he or she wants to. After a player has placed his or her chips into the pot, betting continues in one or more intervals as specified by the particular poker variant being played.