The game of poker has dozens of variations but the basic rules remain the same. Players put in a blind bet and an ante before they are dealt cards. They then make decisions on whether to call, raise or fold their hand. Their decision is based on the strength of their starting hand, their position at the table and the actions of other players.
It is important for beginners to learn how to read other players. This involves watching for tells, which are nervous habits such as fiddling with chips or a ring or the way a player looks at their cards. It is also important to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different hands in order to maximize your chances of winning.
After betting is complete, the cards are revealed and the player with the best hand wins the pot. In the event of a tie, the highest card breaks the tie. A pair contains two distinct pairs of cards and a fifth card, which is used to break ties. A straight contains five cards of consecutive rank and a matching suit, while a flush contains two pairs and a fifth card.
A poker hand is strong or weak only in relation to what other players are holding. A pair of kings may be good, but if the person to your right is on a set of aces, your kings will lose 82% of the time. If you play your cards correctly, you can conceal the strength of your hand and win more often than not.