Poker is a card game played by two or more players. It is usually played with a standard 52 card deck (although two decks of cards of different back colours are used, so that one deck is out of play) and sometimes includes jokers or wild cards. Traditionally, the highest five-card hand wins. The game can be played with two to seven players, although ideally it is best for five or six. Players must place a forced bet (the ante) before being dealt cards, and then raise bets in turn. Bets are placed into a pot that is shared by all players.
The first step in learning poker is familiarizing yourself with the rules and understanding what hands beat which. The best way to do this is by watching experienced players and imagining how you would react in their situation. This can help you develop quick instincts and make smart decisions.
Many beginners make the mistake of not raising enough when they have a strong hand. This can cost them a lot of money. It is important to be aggressive in your play and push the weaker hands out of the pot.
It is also important to know when to bet and when to fold. Too often, novices will check when they should be betting and call when they should be raising. This can put them in a disadvantageous position against more experienced players, as they will be able to read their betting patterns much better.