How to Play Poker Like a Pro

A game of poker involves betting among a number of players. The goal is to form the best possible hand based on card rankings in order to win a pot at the end of each round of betting. The pot is the sum of all bets made during a given betting interval or “round.” Depending on the game rules, one or more players are required to make forced bets—usually an ante and a blind bet (sometimes both). The player on the button cuts the cards after shuffling and then deals them out one at a time starting with the person to their left.

Playing the player, not the cards

The strength of your hand is often determined by what other players are holding. For instance, if you hold K-K and the other player is holding A-A, your kings will lose 82% of the time. It’s important to learn how to read other players and understand their tendencies. You can do this by observing their body language and betting patterns.

Another key strategy is to always try to be in position if possible. It’s much easier to manipulate the size of a pot on later betting streets when you have position. Early position players are often the victims of aggression, so it’s important to avoid calling their re-raises with weak hands unless you’re in a strong position yourself. It’s also helpful to learn the tells of aggressive players. They may be telling you that they’re holding a very good hand by their betting habits, eye movements, idiosyncrasies and other tells.