The game of poker is a skill-based card game, with some element of chance. It’s also a test of, and a window into, human nature, with its ability to bolster or tank even the best players.

To begin playing, all players must buy in for a certain amount of chips (usually at least 200). Chips are used to mark how much a player has invested into the pot. The most common chips are white, red, and blue. Each color represents a different value, with a white chip worth one unit of money, a red chip worth five whites, and a blue chip worth 10 whites.

Once everyone has their cards, there is a round of betting. These bets are mandatory and are placed into the pot by the two players to the left of the dealer. The player with the highest-ranking hand wins the pot at the end of the hand.

During the hand, it’s important to keep your cards together as you move around the table. This prevents players from misreading your cards and assuming you’re bluffing when you’re not.

Another way to improve your poker play is to study the moves of experienced players. While you don’t want to copy their mistakes, you should pay attention to their successful moves. This will expose you to new strategies and tactics that can be incorporated into your own gameplay.