Poker is a card game in which players bet on their hands. It is a game of skill and strategy, and has become very popular in the United States. It is played in private homes, casinos, clubs and over the Internet. It has even been called the national card game of America, and its play and jargon permeate American culture.

The game starts with one or more players making forced bets, usually an ante and a blind bet. The cards are then shuffled, and the player on the seat to the right of the dealer cuts. The dealer then deals cards to the players, starting with the player on his or her left. Players may choose to raise, call or fold their hands. After a number of betting intervals, the best hand wins the pot.

In addition to reading and studying strategy, learning how to read tells is a key skill for any poker player. These tells are subtle signs that the player is holding a strong or weak hand. They can include sighing, blinking excessively, nose flaring, watery eyes or a hand over the mouth. If the player stares you down and has a cocky look, he or she is probably bluffing.

When playing poker, it is generally a good idea to avoid calling re-raises with weak or marginal hands from early positions. This way, you will be in position to manipulate the pot on later betting streets.