Poker is a card game where players wager on the strength of their hands. The best hand wins the pot. To win a hand you must either raise your bet or fold your cards. If you raise your bet, other players will likely fold their hands and you will win the pot. When you have a strong hand, betting can be a great way to scare off other players and make them fold their cards.
The first step to becoming a good poker player is learning how to play the game and improving your starting hands. Many beginners stick to playing only strong starting hands, but if you want to be a winning player you need to improve your range of starting hands and learn how to play more hands.
To improve your poker skills, you need to study the game and watch experienced players play. By observing how other players play you can learn to read them and figure out their betting patterns. A large part of reading other players comes from paying attention to their body language. You can also get a lot of information by watching the way they handle their chips. If a player is nervous with their chips they are probably holding crappy cards. If a player is raising frequently then they are probably holding strong hands.
In most poker games, the players ante something (the amount varies but is usually a nickel) and are dealt two cards. Once everyone has their two cards, they can start betting on the strength of their hand. When it is your turn to bet you can say hit, stay, or double up. Hit means you want to see a third card or double your stakes. Stay means you want to keep your current hand. And, double up means you want to put in all your remaining chips.
After the betting round is over, the dealer will deal three more cards on the table that anyone can use, this is called the flop. If you have a pair of 7s on the flop then you have the nuts and are the best player in the hand.
Once the flop is dealt the rest of the players have to decide whether to call, raise or fold. If your hand is good then you should always call the bet and try to improve your hand. If you are holding pocket kings and the flop is a 3 then you will most likely lose your hand unless you have a flush or a straight. So always be careful with your big pockets and only play strong starting hands if you can. The better your starting hands the more pots you will win!