Poker is a betting card game with a lot of skill involved. The skill is to minimize losses with poor hands and maximize winnings with good ones.

To begin a game, each player places an initial contribution, called an “ante,” into the pot to start it off. The dealer deals the cards, and a round of betting takes place.

When the cards are dealt, each player keeps them secret from everyone else. They then decide whether to bet, fold, or raise.

Players usually use their hole cards as the basis for their decisions. They can choose to fold, which means they don’t play this betting round, check, which means they match the previous bet, or raise, which increases their bet.

The cards are dealt one at a time, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer. The first player to the left of the dealer must post a small blind. The next player to the left of that must post a big blind.

In most games, the deal rotates among the players. This is indicated by a token, called a dealer button, which moves clockwise around the table after each hand.

Often, players will also be required to make forced bets, usually an ante or a blind bet. These are designed to give players something to chase, since they would otherwise fold preflop if they didn’t have to pay.

Acting last in a hand gives you more information than your opponents, which helps you to make accurate value bets. In addition, it allows you to bluff more effectively.