Poker is a card game in which players make bets by putting chips into the pot before each betting round. The player with the highest-ranked hand wins. A high-ranking hand is a royal flush (A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit); straight flush (five cards in a sequence but not of the same suit); four of a kind (four cards of the same number/picture); or three of a kind (three cards of the same number/picture). In cash games, players usually buy-in for a fixed amount of chips. These chips are color-coded to indicate their value; a white chip is worth one unit, or the minimum bet; a red chip is worth five whites, and so on.
The players at a table can choose to fold their cards, call the bet made by the previous player, or raise it. To call is to place your chips in the pot, matching the amount that the previous player placed in the pot; to raise it is to increase the bet amount by a certain amount.
The key to success in poker is minimising losses with poor hands and maximizing winnings with good ones. This is done by studying your opponents and exploiting their weaknesses. One way to do this is by paying attention to the chip stacks around the table – players with short-stacked stacks tend to bluff more often than those with large stacks. Another way is by reading your opponents’ betting patterns, as they can give you valuable clues as to their intentions.