Poker is a card game where players bet into the middle of the table, called the pot. The player with the highest hand wins the pot. The cards are dealt face down and each player must ante (the amount varies by game, ours is typically a nickel). After that each active player places a bet into the pot in turn starting with the player to their left. Players may then decide to raise the bet, call it, or fold.

Each player has five cards which make up their poker hand. The higher the hand ranks, the more valuable it is. Players with superior hands can win by betting that they have a better hand, and winning players may also bluff to force inferior players to call their bets.

A poker hand has two distinct pairs of cards and a fifth card known as the high card, which breaks ties. In the case of a tie, the higher card is compared first with the second highest, then with the third highest, and so on.

As you observe players at the tables, you can pick up tells that give you a clue about how strong or weak their hands are. These tells are usually genuine, and the shortest tells are the most reliable. The key is to practice observation so that it becomes a natural part of your game, and to learn a few different tells every time you play. As you become a more skilled observer you will be able to sift through the many tells that are often false and confusing.