Poker is a game of skill that puts your analytical, mathematical and interpersonal skills to the test. It’s also a way to learn valuable lessons about life.

The first step in learning how to play poker is getting a feel for the rules of the game. You’ll want to get a feel for how each player behaves, and the different strategies that can be employed. This is done by observing experienced players and imagining how you’d react in their shoes. This will help you develop good instincts and become a better player.

Depending on the game’s rules, one or more players are required to place an initial amount of money into the pot before the cards are dealt. These are called forced bets and come in the form of antes, blinds or bring-ins.

After the flop, the remaining players must decide whether to call, raise or fold their cards. The highest ranked hand wins the pot. To determine which hand has the best chance of winning you’ll need to understand the frequency of each type of hand and how to calculate those frequencies.

Even though poker is a skill-based game, it’s still gambling, and you could lose money playing it. This is why it’s important to always play within your bankroll and know when to quit. Knowing how to manage risk is a skill that can be applied to other areas of your life. Poker can teach you how to take calculated risks and make smart decisions.