Poker is a card game where players bet on the strength of their hand. A player with the highest-ranking 5-card hand wins that round and all money bet during that round. The rules of poker vary slightly between different games, but the majority of them follow a similar format. Players begin each round by putting in a mandatory bet called a “blind” into the pot, and then are dealt 2 cards face down. Players keep these cards secret, and then make bets based on their hand’s strength.
There are two emotions that can kill a good poker player: defiance and hope. Defiance is the desire to hold a weak hand because you’ve already invested so much into the pot, and hope is the urge to keep betting on a bad hand because a single card might break it. Both of these emotions lead to disaster, and it’s important for beginner poker players to learn how to recognize them.
When you have a weak hand, always check and fold. Never try to bluff with it, as this will only lose you more money in the long run. Also, it’s okay to miss a hand if you need to go to the bathroom, get a drink, or take a phone call, but make sure you don’t miss more than one hand — it becomes unfair for everyone else in the table. It’s also helpful to watch experienced poker players and study their actions to build quick instincts.