Poker is a card game where the goal is to form the highest-ranking hand based on the cards dealt to you. You place bets throughout the round and can win a pot at the end of each betting round. Each player must place a minimum bet to remain in the hand, called an ante or blind bet.

The cards are dealt face-down and a round of betting takes place. Once all the players have revealed their cards, a showdown occurs and the winner claims the pot, which is comprised of all bets placed by other players.

A good poker book will have a lot of theory, but it must also contain examples of hands played in real life. A key to being a successful poker player is learning to narrow your range of hands. Many beginner players chase too many hands, and this can lead to a break-even or losing streak.

In addition to understanding the game and its variants, you should be able to read other players’ tells (eye movements, idiosyncrasies, hand gestures, betting behavior etc.). A player who frequently calls but suddenly raises could be holding a monster hand.

Lastly, you need to be committed to playing the best games for your bankroll and your skill level. This means avoiding low-stakes games where your chances of winning are small. It also means avoiding games against players who are much better than you, as this will make it impossible to turn a profit.