Poker is a card game with many variants and betting structures. But it can be broken down to one fundamental idea: players play cards against other players’ cards over a series of rounds with the winner being the player with the best hand at showdown.

The first step is putting up some money (known as the ante) to be dealt in the hand. Once the ante is raised, a round of betting takes place in a circle around the table. If you want to bet, say “raise” and the other players will decide whether to call or fold.

After the flop is dealt, another betting round takes place. If you have a good hand, like two kings, this is the time to raise as people won’t be able to put you on that hand as easily anymore.

If you don’t have a strong hand, it is usually better to fold at this point. This will give you the chance to try and improve your hand in a later round, when there is less information to go off of.

When you do have a strong hand, you can bet on it by saying “call.” This means you will put the same amount up as the player to your left, or in some cases more, if they raised earlier in the round. Keeping the pot size high is key to winning hands. This is why you need to pay attention to your opponents’ actions, especially their betting patterns. You can also pick up a lot of information from subtle physical tells, such as scratching your nose or fidgeting with your chips, but the best reads come from looking for patterns in how players play their cards.