Poker is a card game played in rounds and has a huge amount of strategy involved. While luck is a large part of poker, the best players understand the long-term expectations of their actions and use psychological, mathematical and game theory principles to make their decisions.

The game begins with 2 mandatory bets, called blinds, placed into the pot by the players to the left of the dealer. This creates a pot right away and encourages competition. After the blinds are put in the first card is dealt face down to each player. The player then decides to hit, stay or double up.

Once everyone has seen their cards the flop is revealed. This is a community card that anyone can use to improve their hand. After this the betting starts again, and the highest ranked hand wins the pot. This is known as the showdown.

During the showdown it is important to know your opponents. Watch for tells, not only the subtle physical ones like fiddling with their chips, but also how they play. For example, if someone has been calling all night and suddenly raises the pot it is likely they are holding an unbeatable hand. Beginners should try to learn the art of reading their opponents as much as possible to improve their game. This is why finding a poker community is so helpful, as you can discuss hands with others and get honest feedback about your play.