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The Basics of Poker

Poker is a game of card ranking and betting that involves forming the best 5-card hand possible in order to win the pot at the end of each betting round. The pot is the aggregate of all bets made by all players in the hand.

Unlike most games, the majority of bets in poker are not forced. Instead, they are voluntarily placed by players who believe that the bet has positive expected value or are trying to bluff other players for various strategic reasons. In the long run, these voluntary bets add up to a large share of the total pot.

Players begin the hand by putting in either an ante or blind bet, depending on the game being played. The dealer then shuffles the cards and deals them to each player one at a time, beginning with the person to their left.

Once everyone has their cards they must decide whether to call the bet, raise it or fold. If a player chooses to fold, they lose all of their chips that were put into the pot during that betting interval.

Throughout the course of a hand players can learn about other players by studying their actions and analyzing their tells. These are small details that a player may use to make an informed decision, such as an opponent’s eye movements, idiosyncrasies in their hand gestures and betting behavior. They can also use this information to categorize players into one of the 4 basic player types: LAG’s, TAG’s, LP Fish or super tight Nits.