Poker is a card game, usually played for money. It is a competitive skill game that involves deception and strategic thinking. It requires patience, self-examination and practice to develop the necessary skills. A good poker player also constantly tweaks their strategy to improve.

Before the game begins, players buy-in for the amount of chips they wish to play with. These chips are often of different colors. The white chip is the lowest valued and is worth the minimum ante or bet. Red and blue chips are worth more, and whites can be exchanged for other colored chips. Each player should have a supply of at least 200 chips.

Each player receives 2 cards that are hidden from other players. Then the betting phase starts, and the first player to act puts down a bet. Players take turns revealing their hands, and the player with the best 5-card hand wins the pot.

After a few betting phases, 3 cards are dealt face up to the center of the table (revealed to all players). These are called the “flop.” Then another round of betting takes place. Players must use the flop and their own cards to make a best 5-card poker hand.

To be a successful poker player, it is important to know your opponents and how they play the game. You must be able to read them and pick up on subtle signals they give off. You should also be able to concentrate and focus during games, even when the game is stressful or frustrating. Mental training techniques, used by athletes, can help you hone these skills.