Poker is a card game in which players bet on the outcome of a hand. It is a game of chance, but it also involves skill and psychology. Professional players use probability and game theory to make decisions. They understand how to read other players and know when to fold a bad hand. They have a lot of patience and can wait for optimal position. They are also able to calculate pot odds and percentages.
Each round of betting begins after the dealer deals 2 cards to each player. The first two mandatory bets called blinds are placed into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. After these bets, each player may choose to either “call” the previous players’ bets by putting in the same amount of chips as they did, or to raise their own bet. If a player decides to raise, they must say “raise” before they put in any more money.
Players can also check (pass) a bet, meaning they will not put any chips into the pot. They can also “drop” their hand, which means they will discard their cards and stop betting until it is their turn again. When they are finished betting, the dealer will “spread” the chips into the pot so all players can see how much is in the pot. The more you play, the more you will become familiar with these terms and how they are used throughout a hand.